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Florida Agricultural 
Experiment Station Library 

Gainesville, Florida 




Studies in Administration: Volume X 



Publications of the Committee on Public Administration 
Studies in Administration 

The Administration of Federal Grants to States, by V. O. Key, Jr., 1937 

The Works Progress Administration in New York City, by John D. Millett 

The Administration of Canadian Conditional Grants: A Study in Dominion- 
Provincial Relationships, by Luella Gettys, 1938 

The Administration of an N. R. A. Code: A Case Study of the Men's Cloth- 
ing Industry, by Robert H. Connery, with a Foreword by Lindsay Rogers 

Public Employment Service in the United States, by Raymond C. Atkinson, 
Ben Deming, and Louise C. Odencrantz 

The Administration of Old Age Assistance, by Robert T. Lansdale, Elizabeth 
Long, Agnes Leisy, and Byron T. Hippie, 1939 

City Manager Government in the United States: A Review, by Harold A. 
Stone, Don K. Price, and Kathryn H. Stone, 1940 

City Manager Government in Nine Cities: Case Studies, by Harold A. Stone, 
Don K. Price, and Kathryn H. Stone, 1940 

City Manager Government in Seven Cities: Case Studies, by Frederick C. 
Mosher, Arthur Harris, Howard White, John A. Vieg, and others, 1940 

Public Administration and the U. S. Department of Agriculture, by John M. 
Gaus and Leon Wolcott, with a chapter by Verne Lewis, 1940 


Unemployment Compensation Administration in Wisconsin and New 
Hampshire, by Walter Matscheck, 1936 [Public Administration Service 
No. 52] 
The Administration of Old Age Assistance in Three States, by Robert T. 

Lansdale and others, 1936 [Public Administration Service No. 53] 
The Administration of Unemployment Compensation Benefits in Wisconsin, 
July 1, 1936, to June 30, 1937, by Walter Matscheck and R. C. Atkinson, 
1937 [Public Administration Service No. 58] 
Films as an Aid in Training Public Employees, by John E. Devine, 1937 
Research in Administrative Law — Scope and Method, by Oliver P. Field 
Research in Public Personnel Administration — Scope and Method, by 

Leonard D. White, 1939 
Research in Employer-Employee Relations in the Public Service, 1940 
Research in the Use of the Government Corporation 
The Administration of Public Tort Liability in Los Angeles, 1934-38, by 

Leon T. David and John F. Feldmeier, 1939 
Monographs on City Manager Government, by Harold A. Stone, Don K. 
Price, and Kathryn H. Stone, 1939 [Public Administration Service]: 
San Diego, Cal., [Sp. 7]; Janesville, Wis., [Sp. 8]; Charlotte, N. C, 
[Sp. 9]; Fredericksburg, Va., [Sp. 10]; Lynchburg, Va., [Sp. n]; 
Jackson, Mich., [Sp. 13]; Austin, Tex., [Sp. 14]; Dallas, Tex., [Sp. 15]; 
Kingsport, Tenn., 1940, [Sp. 17] 
Monographs on City Manager Government [Public Administration Service]: 
Berkeley, Cal., by Arthur Harris, [Sp. 18]; Hamilton, Ohio, by Howard 
White, [Sp. 19]; Rochester, N. Y., by Frederick C. Mosher, [Sp. 20]; 
Ames, Iowa, by John A. Vieg, [Sp. 21]; Long Beach, Cal., by A. George 
Miller, [Sp. 22]; Winnetka, 111., by David G. Monroe and Harry Wilson, 
[Sp. 23]; Dayton, Ohio, by Landrum R. Boiling, [Sp. 24] 







John M. Gaus 


Leon O. Wolcott 


with a chapter by 

Verne B. Lewis 




Published for the 

Committee on Public Administration of the 

Social Science Research Council by 


Chicago: 1940 

C n4 

z si 

& 'I 7 1- $ 





To the Members of the 

United States 

Department of Agriculture 





William Anderson, Chairman, University of Minnesota 

George C. S. Benson, University of Michigan 

Louis Brownlow, Public Administration Clearing House 

Rowland Egger, Director of the Budget, Virginia. 

George A. Graham, Princeton University 

Luther H. Gulick, Institute of Public Administration 

Pendleton Herring, Harvard University 

Lewis Meriam, The Brookings Institution 

Lindsay Rogers, Columbia University 

Leonard D. White, University of Chicago 

George F. Yantis, Northwest Regional Council 

Charles S. Ascher, Secretary 

John D. Millett 

Patterson H. French 

261 Broadway, New York 


American Anthropological Association 
American Economic Association 
American Historical Association 
American Political Science Association 
American Psychological Association 
American Sociological Society 
American Statistical Association 

Robert T. Crane, Executive Director of the Council 


The united states Department of Agriculture is one of the largest 
agencies of government in the world. Its activities are varied, its 
organization units numerous. The increasingly close association 
of interest groups with government is well exemplified in its history 
and present programs. It is an outstanding example of the association 
of science and government. For the successful discharge of its respon- 
sibilities it must collaborate with state and local governments, and to 
facilitate such collaboration agencies and procedures have been insti- 
tuted characteristic of our federal system in action. Because of these 
attributes, the programs of the Department and the evolution and 
analysis of its organization and procedures are of especial interest to 
the student of government. The development of the Department pur- 
suant to its added responsibilities under the New Deal program and the 
challenge to agricultural policies presented by the present war enhance 
the importance of efforts to appraise its administrative policies. 

We wish to record at the outset, therefore, our gratitude for the op- 
portunity extended to us by the Committee on Public Administration 
of the Social Science Research Council to undertake the present study. 
Our object has been to encourage and to provide a setting for research 
in administration under our federal system. We are convinced that only 
by studies undertaken at many places and reflective of local and regional 
conditions can the nature of a national department in our federal system 
be understood. We have also tried to throw light on the nature of de- 
partments generally by our study of this particular one. The two 
objectives are complementary and interdependent. The nature of a 
department — certainly of the United States Department of Agriculture 
— is profoundly conditioned by the sharing of power and responsibility 
among three levels of government and by the existence of regional and 
local variations of the problems accorded public treatment. This study 
is not a comprehensive definitive description of the Department; the 
need for using our limited time to best advantage has led us to omit 
treatment of aspects already covered in other studies, to encourage 
studies by others better equipped to undertake them, and to select topics 
for emphasis with a view of revealing the rich opportunities and urgent 
challenges for research in this sector of government at institutions 
throughout the United States. This emphasis, indeed, is but reflective 

viii Department of Agriculture 

of the traditional research policy of the Department in its relations with 
the colleges of agriculture and the agricultural experiment stations. 

We would remind the reader that the Department cannot be under- 
stood from a description of it at any time, or as an isolated and self- 
contained unit of government. Its real significance is to be discovered 
by noting tendencies and adjustments over a period of years, and espe- 
cially by analyzing its activities in an area, or in relation to a commodity, 
as part of a network of governmental and other agencies of social con- 
trol. Only through such studies, continued over a period of time, can 
one determine what governmental services on the national level are 
needed to serve and complete the social adjustments required in the 
local community, and how far the Department is adapted to this task. 
We therefore accept the obligation, as individuals who have had the, 
privilege of making this study, to continue to follow developments in 
this field, to interpret them to our colleagues as opportunity oilers, and 
to encourage studies in this field so far as we are able. 

The reader will note that our treatment reflects two assumptions con- 
cerning such research as this in public administration. One is the im- 
portance of relating the problems of a subject-matter field, such as 
agriculture or housing, to administrative organization and procedure 
through which subject-matter functions are administered. The study of 
public administration may be considered, in the use employed here, 
as an "auxiliary service" to the study of the subject-matter problem. 
The second assumption is that researches in administration need to be 
developed as parts of comprehensive programs of regional and local 
appraisal. We know too little of the resources and problems of our own 
communities and regions and introduce our students to them too in- 
frequently i We believe that such research has valuable civic influence; 
for example, in the education of public servants, in the motivation of 
university and other research, and in stimulating the collaboration of 
public officials, scholars, and citizens generally. 

Since changes in so large an organization occur frequently, we have 
described the Department as it existed at the close of June, 1939, except 
for brief reference to a few subsequent developments of unusual rel- 
evance to the purposes of our study. 

The reader will note how much we are in the debt of many scholars 
and officials. We have a special obligation to the many officials of the 
Department and of other government agencies on all levels of govern- 
ment and of various organizations for their generosity in placing their 
experience and observations at our disposal. We were always received 

Foreword ix 

most courteously and generously by busy officials and every facility was 
extended to us. Early drafts of the study were read by a number of 
persons of varied experience and points of view; we should name them 
but for the fear that, since some readers might assume that they sub- 
scribed to the views expressed here, we should thereby do them some 
injustice. We have profited greatly by the criticisms and suggestions 
which were most generously given to us. The experience of this help- 
fulness is one of the amenities of the life of the student, and we can 
only offer here our gratitude. The frequent reference in the notes to 
books and reports will show our indebtedness to many writers, the 
anonymous authors of government publications as well as such helpful 
guides as Wanlass, Wiest, Alice Christensen, Gladys Baker, Russell 
Lord, and others who have pioneered in this field. The Libraries of 
the Department, it may be added, will be found ready to help in guiding 
the student through the great quantity of materials constantly pouring 
forth in this field from the Department and the various land-grant 
institutions. We have had the privilege of reading parts or all of studies 
under way at the time of our own study, notably David Truman's ac- 
count of the Chicago regional offices of the Department and Donald 
Blaisdell's studies of pressure groups and of government and agricul- 
ture; some of these will be generally available shortly. 

Our work has been the pleasanter and more interesting because of 
collaboration with others. Charles McKinley, of the faculty of Reed 
College, Portland, Oregon, contributed invaluable sampling studies of 
national-state-local relations in various activities of the Department in 
the Pacific Northwest region; we profited from an opportunity of read- 
ing a study of the budget procedure of the Department, written as a 
Master's thesis in the public service training program of the University 
of Minnesota by Verne Lewis, which he has summarized and gen- 
erously permitted us to publish as an appendix to this volume. Mr. 
Lewis subsequendy became an official of the Office of Budget and 
Finance of the Department, and we wish to make it clear that the views 
expressed in his discussion are based upon studies made when he was a 
graduate student at the University of Minnesota, and that the Depart- 
ment has no responsibility for them. Similarly, it should be pointed out 
that Mr. Wolcott's association with the Department followed his par- 
ticipation in this study, and that his views expressed herein are in no 
way to be taken as those of the Department. We record our grateful 
appreciation for research assistance granted by the Graduate School of 
the University of Wisconsin through Dean Edwin B. Fred. 

x Department of Agriculture 

While the Social Science Research Council has made available the 
funds with which this study has been conducted, neither direcdy nor 
through its Committee on Public Administration has it reviewed the 
findings of the study in the sense of approving or disapproving them. 
As in all studies under the auspices of the Council, the authors alone are 
responsible for the statements of fact and the interpretations and 
opinions set forth in the report. 

John M. Gaus 
Leon O. Wolcott 
September, 1940 


Foreword vii 


i. Origins of the Department: 1862-89 3 

2. Pluralism — Growth and Variety of Activities: 1889-1913 13 

3. Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1913-29 . . . 30 

4. Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1929-39 ... 64 

5. Influences on the Evolution of the Department . . 82 


6. Activities as the Core of the Department . . . 91 

7. Production . 94 

8. Land Use 115 

9. Marketing and Distribution 160 

10. Marketing and Distribution (Concluded) .... 191 

11. Rural Life 226 

12. Agricultural Credit Facilities 254 

13. The Line Agencies 262 


14. The Function of the Department 275 

15. The General Staff of the Department .... 289 

16. Auxiliary Services of the Department . . . . 317 

17. The Department in the Light of Current Problems . 378 

Appendix A. Budgetary Administration in the Department 

of Agriculture by Verne B. Lewis 403 

Contents — continued 

APPENDICES— -continued 

Appendix B. Documents on Departmental Organization and on 
Relations with Land Grant Colleges and with State 
Extension Services 463 

Appendix C. Documents on General-Staff and Auxiliary 
Services 489 

Appendix D. Documents on Standards 512 

Appendix E. Notes on Washington and the Field . . . 515 

Index 523 

Part I 

The Evolution of the Department 
of Agriculture 

Chapter i 

We introduce our discussion of problems of administration in 
the United States Department of Agriculture by reviewing 
the evolution of the Department, despite the existence of 
many accounts of its history and of many descriptions of its activities. 
Our purpose is limited by the desire to discover whether any such central 
core of functions, with administrative facilities to implement them, has 
developed that would warrant the use of the term "department." Is 
there, indeed, a Department of Agriculture ? Or, is there only a fortui- 
tous collection of administrative agencies grouped by statute under that 
term ? Light should be thrown upon this question by an examination of 
the activities that have been assigned to the Department since its estab- 
lishment, for they will indicate something of the place into which it has 
developed in our political economy. 1 Such factors as personality, voca- 
tional group interests, and social movements generally make the prob- 
lem of administrative reorganization far more complex than at first 
appears. The structural adaptation of the Department to these activities 
and the administrative problems that have resulted will be further evi- 
dence to be evaluated. 


The United States Department of Agriculture was created in 1862 
by an act of Congress signed by President Lincoln on May 15. The new 
Department had its origins in the Patent Office, first located in the 
Department of State and later in the Department of the Interior. That 
Office had distributed seeds and cuttings collected by our consuls and 
other agents abroad; in 1839 it received its first agricultural appropriation 
of fi,ooo for seed collection and distribution, for agricultural investiga- 
tions, and for the collection of agricultural statistics. "Some years later," 
remarks Arthur Chew, "the Patent Office appointed an agricultural 

1 We have found many articles in Agricultural History, the quarterly journal of the 
Agricultural History Society, of great value in our studies. Staff members of the Bureau 
of Agricultural Economics have been active in the Society; the editor, E. E. Edwards, is a 
staff member of the Division of Statistical and Historical Research. 

4 Department of Agriculture 

chemist. In 1854 Congress increased the agricultural appropriation to 
$35,000 and authorized investigations in botany and entomology." 2 

The act of 1862 placed the Department under the head of a Commis- 
sioner, not a Secretary, who, of course, did not rank as a Cabinet member. 
This act, frequently referred to, significantly enough, as the "organic 
act," may usefully be quoted in part: 3 

Sec. 1. That there is hereby established at the seat of government of 
the United States a Department of Agriculture, the general designs 
and duties of which shall be to acquire and diffuse among the people 
of the United States useful information on subjects connected with 
agriculture in the most general and comprehensive sense of that word, 
and to procure, propagate, and distribute among the people new and 
valuable seeds and plants. . . . 

Sec. 3. That it shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Agriculture 
to acquire and preserve in his Department all information concerning 
agriculture which he can obtain by means of books and correspond- 
ence, and by practical and scientific experiments (accurate records of 
which experiments shall be kept in his office,) by the collection of 
statistics, and by any other appropriate means within his power; to col- 
lect, as he may be able, new and valuable seeds and plants; to test, by 
cultivation, the value of such of them as may require such tests; to prop- 
agate such as may be worthy of propagation, and to distribute them 
among agriculturists. 

Details of organization were left to the initiative of the Commissioner 
and to subsequent appropriation acts and general legislation; but Sec- 
tion 4 of the act authorized the Commissioner to employ a chief clerk 
and "such other persons, for such time as their services may be needed, 
including chemists, botanists, and entomologists, and other persons 
skilled in the natural sciences pertaining to agriculture." 4 

The circumstances relating to the founding of the Department throw 
much light on its future and reflect aspects of continuing importance in 

2 "Evolving Service Functions of the Department of Agriculture," Rural America, 
February, 1938, p. 11; see also his The Response of Government to Agriculture (1937), 
"an account of the origin and development of the United States Department of Agri- 
culture on the occasion of its 75th anniversary." 

3 12 Stat. L. 387. 

4 It is significant that the Dictionary of American Biography contains biographical 
sketches of William Saunders, the first Botanist and Superintendent of the Propagating 
Gardens; C. M. Wetherell, the first Chemist; and Townend Glover, the first Entomologist 
of the Department. There are also sketches of Isaac Newton, the first Commissioner, 
who had previously been appointed by President Lincoln to take charge of the agri- 
cultural work done in the Patent Office, as well as of his successors in the commissioner- 
ship: Horace Capron, Frederick Watts, William LeDuc, George Loring, and Norman 
Colman. The latter was appointed by President Cleveland as the first Secretary of 
Agriculture. There are many one-time civil servants of the Department who have re- 
ceived the distinction of inclusion in the Dictionary of American Biography. 

Origins of the Department 5 

administration. William L. Wanlass, who was employed in the Depart- 
ment from 1912 to 1917, remarks, "It is to the work and influence of the 
United States Agricultural Society, more than anything else" that the 
passage of the organic act may be attributed. He adds : 5 

It is remarkable that such legislation could have been exacted from 
Congress during what was, perhaps, the most critical period of the Civil 
War. That the new Republican party, which had just come into full 
power, was in close alliance with the farming interests of the North is 
further attested by the passage, in this same year, of two other far- 
reaching acts in the interests of agriculture: that of June, 1862, called 
the "Morrill Act," after its principal sponsor in the Senate, granting 
large tracts of public lands for the establishment of an agricultural 
college in each of the States; and the homestead law, which provided 
for giving public land to the individual who had occupied and im- 
proved it, instead of paying a purchase price. 

Lloyd M. Short also noted the role of an interest group, the organized 
agricultural societies, in the establishment of the Department. 6 This 
influence was to persist. Twenty-five years later the designation of the 
Department as an executive department with a Secretary in the Presi- 
dent's Cabinet was claimed by the Grange as due to its influence. A 
frequent assumption of agricultural organizations, as well as of some 
members of Congress, is that the Department was created for the special 
service of farmers. The bearing of such a viewpoint on problems of ad- 
ministrative policy is obvious, since the effort to uphold a public standard 
in administration may subject the Department to criticism on the ground 
that some immediate farmer interest is thus opposed. 

Although the Department grew out of functions long performed on a 
modest scale in the Patent Office, officials responsible for these earlier 
activities had urged their expansion as well as a more substantial organ- 
ization of governmental services to agriculture. Such advocacy by public 
officials of an expansion of functions is a characteristic feature of ad- 
ministrative history and seems almost inevitable in the development of 
the modern state. Whenever the function of collecting information about 
any human activity is conferred upon government, those assigned this 
task readily come to see that certain problems or opportunities for 
facilitating the action of individuals by collective effort are being ignored. 
This tendency is the substantial basis for the charge that civil servants 

5 The Untied States Department of Agriculture — A Study in Administration (Baltimore: 
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1920), pp. 20-21. 

8 The Development of National Administrative Organization in the United States (1923), 
PP- 377-78. See chap, xviii on the Department. We are greatly indebted to this valuable 

6 Department of Agriculture 

grasp for more power, but the accusation that the tendency is caused by 
greed and arrogance by no means follows. It does follow, however, 
that proposals for expansion need to be evaluated by representatives of 
the public other than the operating officials charged with the original 
functions: an appraisal should be made not only by the legislature but 
also by other officials in a position to view such recommendations as they 
affect, and are affected by, other departments and the total claims upon 
the government's resources in men and materials. 7 

Collection and distribution of basic information influence not only 
the officials immediately concerned: the interest groups in society gen- 
erally find in such material many of the data on which they build their 
case for further governmental action. The recording of vital statistics, 
for example, has played a great part in the extension of public health 
work. The same truth is constantly exemplified in agricultural ad- 
ministration; there could have been no effective movement for parity 
for farm prices unless many groups had become informed about the 
movements of prices and commodities in relation to one another. 

The influence of the political movements associated with the victory 
of Lincoln and the Republican party and with the withdrawal of the 
South from the national Congress should also be noted. The desire of 
many engaged in agricultural sciences to claim a divorce of their subject 
from politics should not blind us to the fact that not only the organic act 
of the Department but also two other acts affecting agriculture that were 
passed in 1862 — the Morrill Act and the Homestead Act — reflected a 
political victory and rested upon a common political philosophy. The 
establishment of the Department constituted a major extension of the 
activities of the national government, just as twenty-five years later the 
grant-in-aid device, already indicated by the land-grant practice, was 
an invention destined to extend governmental activity on all three 
levels — national, state, and local. Hence, the student of administration 
will be equally interested in the Morrill Act and (when we consider the 
current tendencies in land-use policy) in the Homestead Act. 8 The De- 
partment was established at a time when, by the latter Act, the policy of 
encouraging widespread settlement of owner-occupiers was victorious. 
The view that the North was primarily an industrial interest requires 
modification: there was also a West, and its ideal was that of the land- 
owning and land-working free citizen. That this conception remains 
powerful today is revealed by the efforts at arresting tenancy through the 

7 For a more detailed discussion of these questions see below, pp. 275 ff. 
8 See below, p. 117. 

Origins of the Department J 

encouragement of land ownership, as well as by the opposition to various 
measures of land policy. 9 

The Morrill Act, however, has even greater significance to students 
of administration in view of current administrative problems. From the 
colleges established or assisted through the land grants authorized by 
this Act and subsequent legislation, many civil servants of the Depart- 
ment have been recruited. Moreover, several of the most outstanding 
secretaries, including Wilson, Houston, and the two Wallaces, as well 
as Under Secretary Wilson and many of the assistant secretaries, have had 
some important association with these colleges as students, teachers, 
deans, or presidents. 10 Later, expansion of the influence of the land- 
grant colleges also came with the establishment of state experiment sta- 
tions and cooperative extension services in 1887 and 191 4, with their 
headquarters at the colleges; all three agencies were closely integrated in 
program and personnel in 1939. 11 

The circumstances surrounding the adoption of the legislation of 
1862 have been analyzed by Earle D. Ross of Iowa State College, to 
whose researches in the history of the Department and of the land-grant 
institutions all students of administration are the more indebted because 
of the paucity of administrative history. 12 Mr. Ross warns against any 
sentimental and hindsight ascription of plan and balanced philosophy 
to the legislation of the period. He points out that movements, forces, 
and institutions were encouraged that were to develop contradictory and 
antagonistic results and vested interests in the future, to the extent that 
"the present necessity for an agricultural new deal, of some sort and 
degree, is due largely to the incompleteness and ineffectiveness of that 
of the Civil War." In fact, the supposed democracy of the movement for 
free land was really a reflection of the atomistic nature of American 
society and economy that also permitted the rise of arbitrary controls in 
railroading, finance, and industry — all encouraged at the same time by 

9 See below, p. 130. 

10 Some of the commissioners contributed to the founding or development of land- 
grant colleges in their states; relations in point are those of Watts and the Pennsylvania 
State College, Loring and the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now Massachusetts 
State College), and Colman and the University of Missouri. 

"The standard accounts of these developments are three Miscellaneous Publications of 
the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Nos. 15, 36, and 251, by Alfred C. True: 
A History of Agricultural Extension Wor\ in the United States, 1785-1923 (1928); A 
History of Agricultural Education in the United States, 1785-1925 (1929); and A 
History of Agricultural Experimentation and Research in the United States, 1607-1925 

12 See, for example, his valuable article, "The Civil War Agricultural New Deal," 
Social Forces, October, 1936, pp. 97-104. This is a model of interpretation of adminis- 
trative history, throwing light, as it does, upon current and future problems confronting 
the administrative institutions by its analysis of their historical setting and evolution. 

8 Department of Agriculture 

special favors, such as land grants, tariffs, and other measures. Neither 
the new Department nor the land-grant colleges would, for a long time to 
come, have the resources for encouraging a better-balanced judgment in 
these matters. 

Farm organizations were divided by regional and commodity interests 
and in any event were unfriendly to regulation by government; no 
substantial agreement on ideas or methods existed among educators or 
consultants; interest in land speculation was tied both to railroad pro- 
motion and to the interests of individual settlers. The new plains frontier 
was politically organized and opened up and settled with little, if any, 
heed to its natural features of climate and land cover. According to Mr. 
Ross, 13 

The new department — anomalous in nature since while independent 
it was not of cabinet rank — was launched under political rather than 
scientific auspices with an amiable but incompetent, politically- 
scheming market gardener at the head. The scientists, the brain 
trusters of their day, were neglected or, in certain notable cases, sum- 
marily dismissed. The only contributions to more abundant living 
were the continued distribution of exotic seeds, a long-standing abuse, 
carried over from the Patent Office period, and unofficial patronage to 
the launching of societies of Flora, Ceres, and Pomona. . . . The new- 
type colleges, not subjected to the centralizing control that the period 
inaugurated, were left to the varieties, vagaries, and competitive con- 
flicts of local self-determination and consequently did not begin to 

function during the period of the war The colleges had to be sold to 

their constituencies but before the experiment stations there was little 
to sell that was tested and standardized, and before organized exten- 
sion there were no effective selling agencies. 

Two other aspects of the new Department were the relative specializa- 
tion of research work and the fluidity of internal organization. The 
actual work that had been done in the Patent Office — and that envisaged 
in the legislation as well— was directed to specific problems and to 

™Op. cit., pp. ioo-i. An interesting picture of the land -grant colleges as they were 
getting established and under way and of the shift from seed distribution as minor 
political spoils to plant research will be found in David Fairchild's The World Was My 
Garden (1938), chaps, i-iii. Mr. Fairchild pioneered in the plant exploration and intro- 
duction work of the Department. Mr. Ross has called our attention to two articles by 
E. W. Hilgard, "Progress in Agriculture by Education and Government Aid," Atlantic 
Monthly, 49 (1882), 531-41, 651-61; they are valuable for their appraisal of the work 
of the land-grant colleges and of the Department at that time. Mr. Hilgard notes the 
exploitative practices of American farmers and suggests that not until cheap good land 
is gone will improvement be forced. He also records the different corporate interests and 
attitudes of the Department and the land-grant institutions. See also Elizabeth A. Osborne 
(ed.), From the Letter-Files of S. W. Johnson (1913). Mr. Johnson was Professor of 
Agricultural Chemistry at Yale University, 1856-96 and Director of the Connecticut 
Agricultural Experiment Station. A letter from Mr. Hilgard (p. 225) reflects the attitude 
of scientists in the state institutions toward the national Department and its Commissioner. 

Origins of the Department 9 

specific plants and animals. The conception was, one may suggest, atomic 
rather than ecological: it would apply to bits of agricultural problems, 
to fractions of the farm plan, rather than to natural regions or to the 
nice interrelations of commodities to one another and to the area in 
which they were grown. A recognition has gradually developed of the 
sensitive interdependence of all factors affecting a farmer on his farm 
and his need for something in addition to information — however good 
in itself — about a particular commodity or problem. This development 
has been due in part to the Department's researches, as well as to the 
pressure of prices in national and international markets, on the one 
hand, and of local tax rates and other indices of land-use problems in a 
local community, on the other. 

The organic act left the details of organization largely to the Com- 
missioner, subject, of course, to provisions in the annual appropriation 
acts. Throughout its history the Department has been fortunate in this 
relative freedom to adjust its resources to its changing tasks. Only a 
few of the Department's bureaus have been established by statute — 
notably the Bureau of Animal Industry and, much later, the Soil Con- 
servation Service. Perhaps the Department itself wanted this latter ac- 
tivity, transferred from the Department of the Interior, to be more 
definitely incorporated in the Department of Agriculture. Generally 
speaking, the Department has been able to rearrange its organization 
through the more flexible medium of appropriation acts or even by 
regulations of the Secretary. 


Although twenty-seven years elapsed between the founding of the 
Department and its elevation to the status of an executive department, 
three of its major functions were established during the interim: re- 
search in the sciences basic to agriculture, facilitation of production, and 
facilitation of marketing. Carleton R. Ball, in a lecture delivered in the 
Graduate School of the Department, refers to this period as one in 
which the principal function was investigation and in which the out- 
look of the personnel was individualistic. 14 The development of research 

14 Carleton R. Ball, "History of the United States Department of Agriculture and the 
Development of Its Objectives," Department of Agriculture Objectives, Graduate School, 
Department of Agriculture (1936). His data on other periods are as follows: 

12 3 4 

Period 1862-87 1888-1912 1912-32 1933-62 

Number of Years 25 25 20 30 

Major New Objective . . . Improvement Protection Education Stabilization 

Principal New Function . Investigation Regulation Extension Planning 

Structural Trend Development Organization Coordination Cooperation 

Personnel Oudook Individual Bureau Departmental National 

io Department of Agriculture 

in the natural sciences generally was characteristic of the growing ma- 
turity of American society and the work of the Department in labora- 
tory, garden, and field plot was developed by chemists, botanists, and 
entomologists. 15 In the first year of the new Department a Division of 
Chemistry, a Propagating Garden, and a Library were established; 
within the next twenty years divisions or other administrative units were 
created for entomology, fiber investigations, statistics, soil analysis, 
botany, microscopy, forestry investigations, and the investigation of 
animal diseases. The application of these researches was aimed at facilitat- 
ing agricultural production by fighting pests and diseases harmful to 
plants and animals and by improving factors in production. 16 

A new note was introduced with the establishment by statute in 1884 
of the Bureau of Animal Industry. The growing European markets for 
our livestock and meats were threatened by quarantine action taken at 
British ports in 1879 against American cattle infected with pleuro- 
pneumonia, which had entered this country in 1843 and again in 1859. 
The rapid spread of the infection led to efforts to obtain state action; 
such action was inadequate, however, and the new Bureau, building 
upon work already initiated in the field of animal diseases and veterinary 
science, with the cooperation of the states eradicated the disease within 
five years. 17 It has subsequently attacked other animal diseases, such as 
hog cholera, cattle fever, anthrax, bovine tuberculosis, and Bang's 
disease, and through its researches has made highly important contri- 
butions to medical science. To the student of administration such services 
illustrate the fact that regulation of a citizen's activities (a power first 
conferred in a direct way upon the Department in the act establishing 
the Bureau) may actually widen his freedom in obtaining protection 
from coercion by natural forces with which he cannot cope unaided. 18 

15 The development of scientific studies, as well as of the specialized and atomic type sug- 
gested above, was stimulated by the return during the seventies and eighties of many 
graduate students from Germany, by the expansion of the older educational institutions, 
such as Harvard under Eliot (a chemist), by the founding of new ones, such as the 
Johns Hopkins, and by the development of the land-grant institutions. There were also 
differences in outlook and temperament between commissioners and scientists. We are 
indebted to Mr. Ross for references on this development to the American Naturalist, VI 
(1872), 39-45, and the American Journal of Science, III (1872), 315-18. 

16 See, for example, K. A. Ryerson, "The History and Significance of Plant Introduc- 
tion Work of the United States Department of Agriculture," Agricultural History, April, 
1933, pp. 110-28. 

17 Chew, The Response of Government to Agriculture, pp. 30-31. See also, below, 
pp. 166 ff. 

18 The theory of political freedom expressed here is in general one that developed in 
the nineteenth century throughout the western states most affected by modern science. 
See, for example, A. V. Dicey, Lectures on the Relation Between Law and Public Opinion 
in England During the Nineteenth Century (1905); John Dewey, The Public and Its 

Origins of the Department n 

At the same time, the action of the national government implements 
state action and affords a protection against those states that handle 
the problem inadequately 19 or not at all. 

During these earlier years of the Department the land-grant colleges 
were beginning to take shape. Their arrival as a force of importance in 
influencing national legislation was marked by the passage of the Hatch 
Act in 1887, for whose enactment they worked in cooperation with the 
National Grange. 20 This Act, extended and enlarged by the Adams Act 
of 1906, the Purnell Act of 1925, and the Bankhead-Jones Act of 1935, 
expanded the land-grant principle into a policy of national financial 
grants to the states destined subsequently to be applied to many other 
functions of government. 21 Under this legislation funds were made 
available annually to agricultural experiment stations in each state. The 
Department, through its Office of Experiment Stations, must audit ex- 
penditures of these funds to insure their use for the specified purposes 
of research. Recent developments in this national-state cooperation in 

Problems (1927); Felix Frankfurter, The Public and Its Government (1930); J. Mark 
Jacobson, The Development of American Political Thought (1932), especially chaps, vii 
and viii; and L. T. Hobhouse, Liberalism (191 1). 

19 The development of research and activities by national and state governments is well 
described for one field by L. O. Howard in A History of Applied Entomology (1930). 
Note especially his biographical sketches of Glover, Riley, and Comstock; the sections 
"The Teaching of Entomology in the United States," "Entomology Under the Federal 
Government, 1 878-1 894" (in which he notes that President Cleveland placed all the 
bureau chiefs except the Chief of the Weather Bureau under the civil service system), 
"The Hatch Act and the State Experiment Stations," "Fake Insecticides and Insecticide 
Legislation," "The Later Work of the Federal Bureau," and "American Entomology in 
Fifty Years." He notes (p. 167) that the failure of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 
to attack the gypsy-moth situation in the 1890's created a problem extending beyond its 
borders in later years which forced national action. Reference may be made also to his 
Fighting the Insects (1933) for the memoirs of a career civil servant in the Department. 

^The close connection between the Grange and the Department in the early decades 
of their history is illustrated by the career of William Saunders. He was Superintendent 
of the Propagating Gardens of the Department from its founding until his death in 
1900; as recorded by his biographer in the Dictionary of American Biography, he was one 
of the seven founders of the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry (popularly 
referred to as "The Grange"), author of its constitution and preamble in 1867, and master 
of the national organization for its first six years. Other Grange leaders employed in the 
Department were O. H. Kelley and William Duane Wilson. The passage in 1890 of the 
Second Morrill Act was further evidence of the growing influence and importance in 
national legislation of the land-grant colleges. This Act applied the grant-in-aid device 
to the further benefit of the land -grant colleges by an annual lump-sum appropriation 
to each institution from the national treasury. 

21 For the administration of the various grant-in-aid systems see the definitive study 
by V. O. Key, Jr., The Administration of Federal Grants to States (1937). The Canadian 
system is described by Luella Gettys in The Administration of Canadian Conditional Grants 
(1938). The statutes governing the relations of the Department to the agricultural experi- 
ment stations are conveniently available in Department of Agriculture, Laws Applicable to 
the United States Department of Agriculture (1935), pp. 156-65. National -state cooperation 
is described in detail by Carleton R. Ball in Federal, State and Local Administrative Re- 
lationships in Agriculture (1938). 

12 Department of Agriculture 

research point toward the possibility of a more regional and ecological 
basis for research programs, supplementing the earlier emphasis on more 
individualistic field and laboratory work reflective of the stage of 
scientific studies in chemistry characteristic of the last half of the 
nineteenth century. 

Chapter 2 

ACTIVITIES: 1889-1913 

When the department was elevated in status by the act of 
February 9, 1889, its functions were still primarily research in 
nature, although the first of its regulatory powers had also 
been conferred. Its annual expenditure had increased from less than 
$100,000 in 1862 to approximately $2,000,000 in 1889. Apparently, how- 
ever, the more intangible factor of a desire to achieve recognition for 
the farmer led to the passage of the act. 1 The new status of the Depart- 
ment and the appearance of a Secretary of Agriculture were significant 
not because of any accompanying important change in the Department's 
functions or increase in its expenditures; these changes had been gradual. 
What was significant was the first appearance in our national govern- 
ment of a major department established to represent a major interest — 
agriculture. The time was the eve of the census that, as Frederick 
Jackson Turner was shortly to point out, 2 was to be historically sig- 
nificant as the one in which a frontier line no longer could be clearly 

The influence of farmer organizations had been thrown behind move- 
ments to regulate railroads and to expand the currency. The Knights of 
Labor were shortly to be succeeded by the American Federation of 
Labor. The first settlement houses, witnessing the problems of American 
cities, were founded in 1889 and 1890 in Chicago, Boston, and New York. 
The city-planning movement was shortly to be stimulated by the Chi- 
cago World's Fair of 1893 and by the leadership of Charles Eliot and 
Charles Francis Adams in developing the metropolitan park system of 
Boston. New York State had established in 1885 its great forest reserves, 
the Catskill and Adirondack Parks, so that these uplands, unsuited to 
agriculture and the source of so many rivers and streams, would be set 
aside and conserved for the public benefit. Prophetic of the developments 

1 See Wanlass, op. cit., p. 23; Short, op. cit., pp. 383, 393; Chew, The Response of 
Government to Agriculture, p. 14; Allan Nevins, Grover Cleveland, A Study in Courage 
(1932), p. 362. 

2 "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," a paper read at a meeting 
of the American Historical Association in Chicago, July 12, 1893; republished in The 
Frontier in American History (1920) and in Everett E. Edwards (compiler), The Early 
Writings of Frederick Jackson Turner (1938). 


14 Department of Agriculture 

of the next fifty years, the act of Congress of March 3, 1891, authorized 
the President to reserve public lands "bearing forests" as "national 
forests" by public proclamation. The roots of our current problems, in- 
cluding the devising of administrative organizations and techniques for 
attack upon them, are to be found in the later decades of the nineteenth 
century. Nor should we overlook the inevitability of our closer asso- 
ciation with events throughout the world foreshadowed by the Spanish- 
American War and the concomitant policies of our government in 
China and the Far East and those about the Panama Canal. 

Bryce, in The American Commonwealth, published in 1888, had 
prophesied the approach of American society to the characteristic prob- 
lems of the older societies of Europe. During the next fifty years the 
organized interest groups were to become more clearly the important 
forces in politics which we have since seen them to be and were in part 
to be brought within the formal structure of government. But was there 
to be another and different meaning to the term "agriculture"? Was 
there a public interest in agriculture that differed from that of the 
farmer? 3 Was this interest something inclusive of, yet in addition to, 
the activities of the agencies placed in the new Department? What 
facilities were to be developed for the use of the new Cabinet member 
in an effort adequately to represent agriculture as thus more widely 
conceived ? These questions were to have a practical bearing on the ad- 
ministrative developments of the next half century. 4 

We have seen that the basis of the Department's organization up to 
the time of its elevation in status had been either a scientific research 
activity or a commodity. For a time the addition of units for such pur- 
poses continued to be the form of its growth, with little or no corre- 
sponding development of over-all departmental functions or agencies. 
The first unit auxiliary to all the operating units had existed from the 
beginning: the Library; perhaps one should include the Propagating 
Garden in this category, since it was utilized by several research units. 
Lloyd M. Short records that a Division of Accounts and Disbursements 
was established in 1880 as a branch of the Commissioner's Office and 
that it became a separate Division in 1889 — the ancestor of the Office of 
Budget and Finance. 

The act of February 9, 1889, gave to the Department a Secretary and an 
Assistant Secretary, both to be appointed by the President and hence to 

3 Note the use of the term "public" in Dewey, op. cit. 

* Within twenty -five years, indeed, "commerce" and "labor" had also successfully 
pressed for representation. 

Pluralism — Growth and Variety of Activities: i88g-igi^ 15 

be political chiefs of the Department selected on the basis of political 
criteria, 5 as is necessary in a system of representative government. Pre- 
sumably they would be the channels through which the Administration 
of the day would communicate with agricultural interests and through 
which those interests would normally communicate with the Adminis- 
tration; they would also be responsible for counseling on the national 
agricultural policies to be presented to Congress and to the country 
generally. Secretary Rusk, the second to occupy the post (his predecessor, 
Secretary Colman, had been Commissioner at the time of the passage of 
the act), assigned the general direction of the Department's scientific 
work to the Assistant Secretary and also established a Division of 
Records and Editing, the ancestor of the Office of Information. It was 
not until 1891 that provision was made for an appointment clerk nor 
until 1896 for a chief of the Division of Supply in the Office of the 
Secretary; it was only with the addition of new operating functions in 
the long secretaryship of James Wilson (1897-1914) that important re- 
arrangements in internal organization took place. 


During the early years of the Wilson secretaryship there was develop- 
ing in the Department a characteristic personnel, derived from the 
increasing number of civil servants recruited from the land-grant 
institutions which had now become more firmly established in the educa- 
tional system of the country. Many graduates of the colleges of agri- 
culture found service in college teaching, in research in agricultural 
experiment stations and in the Department, and in administrative posi- 
tions in national or state agencies. 6 This interweaving of service meant 
that a genuine career service, open to talent, had been made possible 
by the Morrill Act and by the Department's development — an example 
of national-state relationship of the greatest significance. Many civil 

5 We refer to their ability to represent substantial experience and interests, to con- 
tribute effectively to the counsels of the party in power, and to influence opinion generally. 
See below, p. 301. 

6 The career of the late B. T. Galloway illustrates the point. He was graduated from 
the University of Missouri, where he had specialized in botany and horticulture and 
where he remained for three years after graduation as an assistant horticulturist. He came 
to the Department in 1887 and was appointed head of the Section of Mycology when its 
previous head resigned to become Director of the new Agricultural Experiment Station 
at the University of Tennessee. He succeeded William Saunders as Chief of the Division 
of Gardens and Grounds in 1900 upon the death of that distinguished civil servant. 
This unit was incorporated with five others in the new Bureau of Plant Industry. He served 
in the early years of the Houston Administration as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, 
became Dean of the New York State College of Agriculture, and finally returned to the 
Department to continue his scientific work in the Bureau of Plant Industry. 

16 Department of Agriculture 

servants of the Department were farm-bred; they were natural scientists 
by training; they were conditioned both by the period of expanding 
economic activity that prevailed in general throughout the nation and by 
the ideals of the individual farm-owner-occupier. The implications of 
increasing interdependence of our own economic system with world 
factors and of our transition from a frontier society still lay, for the 
most part, in the future. For the moment, the major challenges were 
the tasks of pushing back the frontiers of ignorance about the problems 
of the natural sciences relating to agriculture and the dissemination of 
the new knowledge to the individual farmer. 

Emergence of a Corporate Atmosphere 

From this homogeneity of origin, training, and type of career and 
professional interest of those who were rising to the higher posts in 
the permanent civil service, there emerged a corporate atmosphere in 
the Department — currently present, if diluted. Secretary Wilson was 
well qualified, both personally and through his unprecedented length of 
service as head of a department, to strengthen such an outlook in the 
Department. His previous service on the Committee on Agriculture of 
the House of Representatives was an asset in the important relationship 
of a department head to Congress. He was from Iowa, which remains 
perhaps most typically an agricultural state. For many years he had 
been a contributor to a famous farm journal, The Iowa Homestead; 
and he had served as professor of agriculture, Director of the Experiment 
Station, and Dean of the Iowa State College of Agriculture. His bi- 
ographer in the Dictionary of American Biography ascribes his selec- 
tion as Secretary of Agriculture in part to the urging of Henry Wallace, 
the editor of Wallace s Farmer? father of Secretary H. C. Wallace and 
grandfather of Secretary H. A. Wallace. 

This atmosphere of an institution devoted almost exclusively to 
scientific studies and the diffusion of information about them remained 
a powerful factor in the Department's life. There is an obvious likeness 
in it to a university — carrying the equally obvious dangers of encourag- 
ing a narrow and specialized outlook by the personnel, of a timidity 
in formulating programs of action to meet concrete situations, and of 
becoming ingrown in membership and attitude. A certain unifying 
sense of corporate life was derived in part from the rural background 

7 See also Henry Wallace, Uncle Henry's Own Story (3 vols., 191 7, 191 8, 191 9) for the 
relations between Henry Wallace, founder of this journal, and Secretary Wilson. Note 
especially Vol. Ill, pp. 48-51, 80. 

Pluralism— Growth and Variety of Activities: 1889-1913 17 

and interests of so many of the civil servants and from their training in 
the new types of institution that had undergone a period of struggle and 
opposition. The older endowed educational institutions and the older 
colleges in the state universities tended to look down on the new col- 
leges of agriculture. This situation was well calculated to stimulate and 
challenge their students, graduates, and faculties, as well as to promote 
a feeling of fellowship in a common enterprise. We dwell upon this 
point because we believe that it is an important factor in the intangibles 
of administration that are neglected in many current discussions of 
training for the public service. Finally, the activities and attitudes of the 
farmer organizations, with their influence upon parties and therefore on 
legislation and policy, served to remind officials to relate research pro- 
grams to the more urgent needs of the farmer, even if his own proposals 
for their solution seemed ill-considered. 8 

Assumptions Basic to Agricultural Policy 

Certain relatively unexamined assumptions came quite naturally to 
be held in the atmosphere described above — assumptions shared not 
only by many in the Department but also by large numbers of the 
American people. We have already referred to what was perhaps the 
most important: the belief in a political economy based upon the in- 
dividual farmer's owning and working his own farm. For decades the 
national land policy had been based upon this ideal, regardless of the 
nature of the different regions and of such warnings as those of Major 
John Powell. 9 The importance of this ideal, as well as its origins and 
influences, has been set forth by the historian Frederick Jackson Turner 
and a school of his disciples. Its influence persists in the Department, 
although it is challenged or modified by the pressure of events and the 
recruitment of civil servants from sources other than those already men- 

Quite as persistent and potent was the assumption of the absolute 
moral importance of such farmers in American society as a whole and, 
consequently, of their rightful claim upon that society for their fair 
share of its production, power, and prestige. We have used the term 
"moral importance" because this assumption, while obviously related 
to and reflective of economic claims, has its more intangible, yet equally 
important, implication that the essential nature of American society at 

8 A. F. Woods emphasizes this point in his sketch of B. T. Galloway. 
9 Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States (1878), issued by the 
U. S. Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region. 

1 8 Department of Agriculture 

its best derives from the rural community of free, independent, land- 
owning, God-fearing farmers. Frequently there is a further connotation 
of an ethnic and religious character: an admiration and respect for the 
older American stock of New England, of the "up-country" and the 
Piedmont of the Middle States and of the South — the stock from which 
came the pioneers who settled and developed the West and who brought 
with them schools, colleges, and churches. 

This conception is reflected politically even in the most urban of our 
states, such as New York or Illinois, in the preservation by constitutional 
devices of rural political predominance despite urban superiority in 
numbers and in the protection of what were termed rotten boroughs 
in England before the Reform Act of 1832. With such conceptions the 
proponents of farm-interest legislation would naturally be protected from 
self-criticism since they would view such legislation as designed to 
restore the original virtues of the best of the American past. They would 
be equally blind to the development of a more complex rural society 
that increasingly took on the attributes of older ones in Europe. 10 One 
cannot easily recognize the existence of a farm-labor class if its members 
appear to be only the traditional free American owner-occupiers in the 
making. 11 

Finally, to natural scientists in training or at work in the days when 
the works of Darwin and later of Mendel were becoming an influence, 
interpretation of the new and puzzling problems of American society in 
terms of individual and racial differences and genetics was natural. 
These conceptions, however, were to be supplemented and qualified 
both by the introduction of new functions of government impinging 
upon the older fields of agricultural administration and by the rise of 
social studies to bear increasingly upon rural problems. Furthermore, 
personnel requirements reflective of these new problems were not 
quickly to obtain recognition. 

10 Since these concepts will — and do — affect political views and movements that have 
objectives in agricultural policy, the analysis of such aspects of opinion is as essential 
a part of research as is statistical analysis of prices or land values. A department that is 
alive to its responsibilities will, while inevitably reflecting prevailingly held concepts, also 
be subjecting them to appraisal in the light of basic trends in population and other 
resources, income distribution, and similar factors. 

"Joseph S. Davis, in On Agricultural Policy (1939), has a most suggestive discussion 
of what he terms "agricultural fundamentalism" on pp. 24-43; see ^ so ms index for 
other references. There is also the classic discussion of "The Independent Farmer" by 
Thorstein Veblen in Absentee Ownership (1923), pp. 129-41; see also his "The Country 
Town" which follows and completes the first. Note also the emphasis placed by Hilgard, 
op. cit., on the failure of emigrants to achieve a symbiotic relationship to the new lands 
on which they settled. The point has been emphasized for new countries generally by the 
English scientists G. V. Jacks and R. O. Whyte in Vanishing Lands (1939). 

Pluralism — Growth and Variety of Activities: 1889-1913 19 


Mention is made here only of those new activities that were destined 
to become factors of general administrative significance at a later time 
or that marked the introduction of a significant type of function. The 
establishment of the Weather Bureau in 1890 by a transfer of functions 
from the War Department may be noted because the Chief of that 
Bureau ranked as a presidential appointee with the Secretary, Under 
Secretary (an office created as late as 1934), and Assistant Secretary and 
because the development of aviation made the work of this Bureau a 
matter of great interest to the air services, both governmental and com- 
mercial. The Office of Road Inquiry, established in 1893, first concerned 
with methods of improving rural roads upon which the farmer was 
dependent for reaching his market, soon had a clientele primarily urban 
among the bicyclists and later among the motorists. Nutrition and home 
economics investigations were instituted in 1894 under the auspices of 
the Office of Experiment Stations. In the same decade the Divisions of 
Soils, Irrigation Investigations, and Biological Survey, and a section de- 
voted to the study of foreign markets were established. In 1901 a re- 
organization of the Department by Secretary Wilson was given Con- 
gressional sanction in the appropriation act. By a consolidation and 
grouping of the many subject-matter divisions, the Bureaus of Chemistry, 
Forestry, Plant Industry, and Soils were established on a level with the 
older Bureau of Animal Industry. Within the next few years the Bureaus 
of Statistics, Entomology, and Biological Survey were added. 12 

Other activities were further developed or added to the Department 
during the latter half of the Wilson secretaryship. Research and in- 
vestigation were continued of the type that had already been instituted 
and from which later operating units were to be created. An important 
development was made in regulatory work designed to serve both 
producers and consumers. The foundations of the forest policies were 
laid. Cooperative demonstration work, encouraged by the Bureau of 
Plant Industry and supported by an appropriation made by Congress in 
1903, was stimulated by the problem of attacking the boll weevil in the 
South. One form of that attack was the encouragement of diversification 
of crops. Seaman Knapp, a former president of Iowa State College of 
Agriculture, who had been active in plant introduction (especially in 
the development of rice culture), was called upon to organize the new 

^The new buildings of the Department on the Mall were begun in 1903; the two main 
wings were completed in 1908. See below, Appendix C at page 505. 

20 Department of Agriculture 

work undertaken at demonstration farms in Texas. From this and 
similar work in other parts of the country there developed the coopera- 
tive extension program established in the Houston administration under 
the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 and subsequent legislation. The Bureau 
initiated investigations of farm machinery and structures in 1902. 13 


The term "regulatory," as applied to a certain type of the Department's 
activities, may profitably be refined. The purpose of regulation as in- 
stituted in the Bureau of Animal Industry was to protect the farmer by 
the eradication of diseases threatening his cattle and by the prevention 
of loss of markets through consumer fear of unfit products. This kind 
of service is performed in the first instance for the producers of a com- 
modity; obviously, however, it can be justified in the long run only as 
a service to the community generally. This justification becomes clearer 
as the regulation moves from the more obvious types of protection of 
plants and animals against diseases and pests into the definition and 
enforcement of standards of identity and quality of consumer products, 
or into the safeguarding of production processes against conditions 
threatening the legitimate interest of the consuming public — its need for 
nourishing food, for example. 

Our economic system has become such that the individual consumer 
can rarely apply successfully the old maxim, "Let the buyer beware." 
He has not the time, if he be a city dweller, to trace the source of his 
daily milk supply to determine whether it comes from cows free of 
disease and is distributed under sanitary conditions. He cannot go behind 
the package in which he purchases many of his foods. He must depend 
upon the integrity and technical competence of agents. All these con- 
siderations are obvious yet too frequently forgotten. We rant against the 
increase in government regulation, when we might more properly blame 
rail — and later motor truck — transportation, the joint stock corporation, 
the scientist who discovers bacteria, the growth of commercial farming, 
and changes from rural to urban employments and life generally. 14 

13 They were eventually to be joined with the work in drainage and irrigation initiated 
in the Office of Experiment Stations and in the Office of Public Roads and Rural Engineer- 
ing in 1 915 and set off in a separate Bureau of Agricultural Engineering in 1931. In 1939 
this Bureau became a part of the Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and Engineering. 

"Some chiefs of bureaus whose primary function is that of scientific research like to 
have a regulatory function assigned to the bureau, for they believe that it is easier to get 
legislative support for research if it can be shown to be necessary for enforcement of a 

Pluralism — Growth and Variety of Activities: 1889-1913 21 

Edward Wiest remarks about the development of regulation by the 
Department: 15 

These regulatory functions touch the welfare and conduct of virtually 
every citizen. Much of the regulation is based upon scientific dis- 
coveries previously made, and it may be said that while science made 
in many cases possible the establishment of regulatory functions, they 
in turn brought prestige to the department and an enlargement of ac- 
tivities in general. Thus the addition of the regulatory function has 
been very largely responsible for the marvelous expansion of the De- 
partment of Agriculture during the past two decades. . . . 

This rapid expansion was only a phase of what was in progress in 
other fields of Federal activity. With the coming of the railroads in 
1830 and the development of national markets, many regulatory 
functions were thrust upon the Federal Government because local 
governments were wholly inadequate to cope with the new situation. 
In 1887, for example, we created the Interstate Commerce Commission. 

The distinction between service to the producer and to the consumer 
is not clear-cut, however, and frequently cannot be discerned. The regu- 
lation of the producer, against which some producers may protest, may 
actually contribute to the stability of his markets and may even be con- 
ducive to their widening or creation. Producers of a commodity may 
themselves ask for the enforcement of standards as protection from the 
coercion caused by the competition of a few who, by lowering standards, 
may bring the entire trade into disrepute with the consuming public. 

To these remarks, introductory to a discussion of new regulatory 
functions added to the Department, one other observation may be 
added. The Department's research and informational functions were 
increasingly channeled to the individual through the agricultural ex- 
periment stations in each state; with the establishment of the cooperative 
extension services in each state they were to be channeled through that 
institution as well. The new regulatory functions, however, and the 
proprietorship of the national forests, as well as conservation of natural 
resources in wildlife, would find their counterparts in the states in 
various departments of the state government other than the colleges 
of agriculture, experiment stations, and extension services. Hence there 
resulted a problem of coordination not only between the levels of 
national and state government but also among several separate units of 

regulatory statute. Regulatory legislation increasingly requires scientific research for 
adequate enforcement; for example, the revised food, drug, and cosmetic legislation calls 
for continuous research in basic sciences in order to define standards of identity and 
quality and to determine the possible effects of the use of various articles. 
15 Agricultural Organization in the United States (1923), pp. 32, 35. 

22 Department of Agriculture 

state government. To this problem is perhaps due in part the failure to 
achieve a comprehensive and unified view of that series of processes 
whereby raw materials are ultimately conveyed to the consumer, which 
we may term "marketing." So great are the anarchy and the uncertainty 
in this field, both among departments of the national government, each 
concerned with some part of the field, and among departments of the 
state government that we are confronted with a network of state regula- 
tions that challenges the implications, at least, of the commerce clause 
of the national Constitution, which we had thought provided us with 
a constitutional guarantee of a free internal market. 16 

Shipment of Commodities Regulated 

We have noted that the first important regulatory function of the 
Department was allocated to it with the establishment of the Bureau of 
Animal Industry in 1884. Earlier, under the act of March 3, 1873, 
Congress sought to regulate the shipment of catde in the interest of 
more humane treatment in transit. For many years this law was largely 
ignored by the railroads. Although it was occasionally called to their 
attention in circulars, the Department was too inadequately staffed to 
enforce the measure. Under an act of 1890, supplemented in 1891, the 
Bureau of Animal Industry was authorized to inspect meats and "live 
cattle, hogs, and the carcasses and products thereof which are the subjects 
of interstate commerce." For some time the Bureau lacked the personnel 
and other resources necessary for proper enforcement; nor was the legis- 
lation sufficiently comprehensive. 

By 1906 a substantial body of legislation and administrative practice 
had been developed affecting the movement of commodities from the 
producer to the consumer. Furthermore, it was beneficial to the interests 
regulated. President Harrison, in his message to Congress of December, 
1 89 1, asserted that "The inspection by this Department of cattle and 
pork products intended for shipment abroad has been the basis of the 
success which has attended our efforts to secure the removal of the re- 
strictions maintained by European governments." Similar legislation to 
facilitate production as well as marketing conferred regulatory powers 
on the Department regarding insecticides, the importation of seeds, and 
the imposition of plant quarantines. 

16 See, for example, Barriers to Internal Trade in Farm Products, special report to the 
Secretary of Agriculture by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, 1939. The problem 
had been explored and stated by Frederick E. Melder in State and Social Barriers to 
Interstate Commerce in the United States; A Study in Economic Sectionalism (1937), 
based on his doctoral thesis of 1936 at the University of Wisconsin. 

Pluralism— Growth and Variety of Activities: 1889-1913 23 

Inspection and Grading of Agricultural Products 

Meat inspection legislation, originating in 1890 and extended in 1906, 
marked the entry of the national government more definitely into the 
field of safeguarding the consumer public. Wide popular interest was 
aroused in the extension of this principle by the Food and Drugs Act of 
June 30, 1906. 17 The initiative in this legislation had been taken by 
Harvey Wiley, Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry. After his early years 
of scientific studies here and in Germany and his professorship of 
chemistry at Purdue University, he had served as State Chemist of 
Indiana and had entered the Department as Chief Chemist in 1883. 
Through his studies abroad, as well as through his researches in the 
Department, he was acquainted with the problem of food adulteration 
and became a leader in the campaign for public protection. 18 

The administration of the new Act was placed in the Bureau of 
Chemistry. Mr. Wanlass suggests that this work, like that of meat 
inspection, was so allocated because the Department of Agriculture "by 
reason of its facilities, was better prepared for the task than any other." 
It is obvious that the interest of the public in the administration of these 
functions may, and has, come into conflict with that of particular groups 
of producers and distributors. Conflict over regulation of spray residue 
on fruit illustrates the point. It does not necessarily follow, of course, 
that the assignment of these activities to the Department is inappropriate 
if the term "agriculture" is to be interpreted comprehensively to include 
consumer factors of importance to agriculture; the test is to be found 
in the implementing of such a conception throughout all the relevant 
activities of the Department. 19 

An important feature of the administration of these functions was 
the appointment of consultative committees of eminent scientists ac- 
quainted with the subject matter to pass upon proposed rules and regula- 
tions in cooperation with representatives of the Department. Thus, the 

17 An excellent brief summary of the development noted here is in an article by L. M. 
Tolman, "The History and Development of Food Inspection in the United States," 
Journal of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists, February, 1939, pp. 27-36. 
Mr. Tolman was formerly a member of the staff of the Bureau of Chemistry. He notes 
that the first legislation in the field of consumer protection was based upon the taxing 
power and was enforced by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The importance of the 
work of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists in the development of standards 
is stressed. See also Harvey Wiley, An Autobiography (1930).' 

18 Wiley, An Autobiography, p. 321. Mr. Wiley was a founder of the Association of 
Official Agricultural Chemists, one of the many professional societies among public servants 
that have many members in the Department and that play an important role in the 
maintenance of professional standards and morale. 

"See below, pp. 275-93. 

24 Department of Agriculture 

rules governing meat inspection were prepared in consultation with a 
committee whose chairman was Dr. William Welch of the Johns Hop- 
kins University, while the chairman of the Food and Drug Referee 
Board was President Remsen of the same institution. The administra- 
tion of the Tea Adulteration Act, passed in 1897, was given to the 
Bureau of Chemistry, although that of the Renovated Butter Inspection 
Act, passed in 1902 and also affecting a food product, was left with the 
Bureau of Animal Industry. 20 

Grading Commodities Dealt with on Exchanges 

Another type of regulatory service initiated in this period affected 
the grading of commodities dealt with on exchanges and in commerce 
generally. This began with the Grain Standards Act of 1901; in 1908 
the Cotton Standards Act was passed. These Acts and subsequent laws 
of this type were designed primarily "to enable the farmer, after having 
produced his commodities, to market them with the knowledge of their 
probable value by making available to the farmer information concerning 
the comparative quality of his products . . ." or "to maintain a foreign 
market for these products." 21 Such acts provided for terminal inspec- 
tions, standard containers and hampers, tobacco inspection, and the 
grading of naval stores and of apples, pears, and dairy products for 
export. Most of this legislation, however, was enacted after the period 
under immediate discussion and as a part of the new marketing program 
of the Department in the Houston and later secretaryships. These 
regulatory activities, in keeping with a kind of law in administrative 
history to which we have had occasion to refer, led inevitably to measures 
designed to regulate the actual conduct of marketing practices on com- 
modity exchanges, the warehousing of commodities, and the issuance of 
warehouse receipts as a basis for credit. 

^Regulatory work is obviously a highly controversial topic. On the origins and 
development of the Food and Drugs Act see, for example, the observations of Mr. Wiley in 
An Autobiography and also in The History of a Crime Against the Food Law (1929), 
in which he views the establishment of the Board of Food and Drug Inspection by 
Secretary Wilson as a means of removing the enforcement of the Act, in part, from 
himself in order to make possible a different interpretation of the discretionary powers 
of the Act. Intervention by the Secretary, the Solicitor, and by Presidents Theodore 
Roosevelt and Taft are cited, as well as conflicts with the "Remsen Board" of consulting 
experts. The effect of regulatory work on the size of an agency is illustrated by Mr. Wiley's 
statement, An Autobiography , p. 293, that there were six employees when he took office 
in 1883 and more than six hundred, scattered throughout the United States, upon his 
retirement in 191 2. 

21 Mastin G. White, "The Objectives of the Regulatory Work of the Department," 
Department of Agriculture Objectives (mimeo.), Graduate School, Department of Agri- 
culture (1936). 

Pluralism— Growth and Variety of Activities: 1889-1913 25 


The extension of producer and consumer protection through the 
Department was accompanied by new activities in the field of conserva- 
tion of natural resources, of greatest importance to future administration. 
The pioneer work of Franklin Hough, B. E. Fernow, and Gifford T. 
Pinchot in units successively entitled Forestry Investigations (1876), the 
Forestry Division (1880), and the Bureau of Forestry (1901) had laid 
the foundations for research and field studies, as well as for the training 
of a nucleus of personnel in forestry, which in 1905 was given the title 
of the Forest Service. 22 

Formulation of a National Conservation Policy 

Utilizing the Forest Reserve Act of 1891, President Theodore Roose- 
velt transferred from the Department of the Interior to this Service the 
custody and administration of the national forests. This action brought 
to the Department functions and responsibilities of far-reaching scope. 
Thus was created the problem of the future integration of land-use 
policies affecting the various parts of the public domain that were ad- 
ministered by different departments of the national government. The 
Forest Service, for example, had extensive responsibilities over grazing 
on the range within the national forests, the use of which the rancher 
would have to supplement by grazing at another season on public lands 
administered by the Land Office of the Department of the Interior or 
even lands held by a state. Of more immediate importance to the De- 

22 The classic text of the period is Charles R. Van Hise, The Conservation of Natural 
Resources in the United States (1910). The author was President of the University of 
Wisconsin and prominent in the conservation movement. For a useful account of the 
evolution of natural resources conservation programs in the states see Clifford J. Hynning, 
State Conservation of Resources (1939); for a brief popular account both of national 
and of state conservation policies see Ovid Butler, American Conservation (1935), pub- 
lished by the American Forestry Association. This Association, founded in 1875, views 
itself as the pioneer civic organization in the stimulation and organization of public 
support for conservation policies and points to the influence of its American Forest 
Congress of 1905 in bringing about the passage of the act of February 1, 1905, transferring 
the forest reserves to the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Pinchot suc- 
ceeded Mr. Fernow as head of the Division in 1908; thus, as Mr. Fernow was a German- 
trained forester, the American development drew on both French and German forest 
science. Under Mr. Pinchot within seven years the Service expanded from eleven to over 
eight hundred men, many from the new forestry schools at Biltmore, Cornell, and Yale — 
probably the largest group of natural scientists recruited for the Department from other 
than land-grant institutions. Later valuable accounts of the development of forestry activi- 
ties include Herbert A. Smith, "The Early Forestry Movement in the United States," 
Agricultural History, October, 1938, p. 326, and Jenks Cameron, The Development of 
Governmental Forest Control in the United States (1928). It is interesting that Mr. 
Smith notes the importance of the ideas of George P. Marsh, to whose work Lewis 
Mumford and other regionalists turn as a pioneer influence, and also of the report of Carl 
Schurz as Secretary of the Interior in 1877. 

26 Department of Agriculture 

partment was the task of formulating policies for its new charge, in- 
cluding the provision of necessary physical equipment in roads, trails, 
fire stations, telephone lines, cabins for rangers, and an administrative 
organization designed to undertake the proprietary functions incident 
to the management of vast forest lands located in remote areas through- 
out the West. Conservation, under the leadership of President Roosevelt 
and the initiative of Chief Forester Pinchot, rapidly became a major 
political question. The President called a Conference of Governors at 
the White House in 1908 to discuss the matter and appointed a National 
Conservation Commission; powerful opposition developed in Congress, 
which sought to arrest his program of reserving public lands for na- 
tional forests. 23 

In the political struggle that developed over forest policies — a struggle 
that had its part in the personal and factional aspects of the controversy 
between President Taft and ex-President Roosevelt and the dismissal 
of Chief Forester Pinchot from his post — dramatic and emotional aspects 
left their mark on attitudes toward the administration of natural re- 
sources. The conception of conservation as a policy of locking up already 
existing resources, especially the forests, stamped itself strongly on the 
public mind. In later years the shift to an emphasis on wise use, on 
fundamentals of management, as at least complementary to reservation 
against the day of a resources famine, was undoubtedly not easily or 
quickly accepted. 24 Again, the conception of the Forest Service in the 
Department of Agriculture as the defender of the public interest and 
resources against unscrupulous looters infesting the Department of 
the Interior became a stereotype widely held by the public — a view in 
which citizens were strengthened by the record of Secretary of the 
Interior Fall and which Mr. Pinchot's continued association with the 

23 Note, for example, the act of March 4, 1907, prohibiting their establishment without 
congressional approval in certain western states. See, on the events mentioned above, 
Proceedings of a Conference of Governors in the White House, Washington, D. C, May 
13-15, 1908 (1909), Report of the National Conservation Commission, Sen. Doc. No. 676, 
60th Cong., 2nd sess., 1909. 

84 A prophetic early discussion of the larger land-use aspects of the movement for 
forest conservation will be found in Forest Circular 159, issued on January 22, 1909, 
The Future Use of Land in the United States, whose author, Raphael Zon, was at that 
time Chief of the Division of Silvics of the Forest Service and was in 1939 Director of 
the Lake States Forest Experiment Station of the Forest Service at St. Paul, Minnesota. 
Mr. Zon analyzed in this circular future forest needs and resources in the light of the 
probable population of the United States and shifted the emphasis from the conservation 
of the then forest lands to the utilization of all lands of the United States for the purposes 
to which they may best be suited after scientific analysis: "A thorough survey of the lands 
in the United States with the view of determining the best use to which the various classes 
could be put would go a long way toward bringing about the most productive use of our 
greatest resource — the land." 

Pluralism— Growth and Variety of Activities: i88g-igi^ 27 

interests of forestry naturally personalized. Here again, the increasing 
need with the years for a unified attack upon problems of land policy 
finds us with the heritage of functions and powers distributed among 
several agencies, with the two most important affected by a tradition of 
enmity and distrust. 

The Weeks Act, passed in 191 1, marked a further important step in 
forest policy, since it authorized the actual purchase of lands by a Na- 
tional Forest Reservation Commission, on which members of both 
houses of Congress sat with the Secretaries of War, Interior, and Agri- 
culture, for the purpose of protecting the watersheds of navigable 
streams. The significance of this objective lies, of course, in the possibility 
of using powers justified under a liberal interpretation of the commerce 
and spending clauses of the Constitution as a means of expanding the 
policies and functions of national departments. Critics of the Department 
hold that it has thus been led to overemphasize the part played by forest 
and grass cover in retarding runoff and preventing floods in order to 
obtain a larger share in water resources programs and to expand its 
Soil Conservation and Forest Services. The earlier forest reserves had 
been created from the public domain and hence were scattered in the 
West; under the Weeks Act, however, purchases began that instituted 
the development of national forests in the East and South. A national 
land-use program could be attempted. Equally of interest, however, 
was the increased need, in the light of the above-recorded critical attitude, 
for the development of processes and agencies through which a co- 
ordinated natural resources program inclusive of all national agencies 
might currently be formulated and directed. 

Local Impact of the National Program 

The need for such coordination lay not alone in the requirements of 
a properly balanced national program but even more in the ultimate 
local impact of these activities: they affected profoundly the house- 
keeping by local governments and states, with which constitutional 
power and responsibility for so many functions affecting land use 
resided or were shared. Any planning of land use affecting watersheds 
and oriented at least in part toward water resources involved questions 
of multiple use, 25 including water power, supplies of potable water, 
navigation, stream pollution, fish and waterfowl preservation, flood 

25 See Report to the Congress on the Unified Development of the Tennessee River 
System, submitted by the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority, March, 

28 Department of Agriculture 

prevention, irrigation of dry lands and drainage of wet, location of 
human settlement, and land cover. These questions were becoming in- 
creasingly acute with scientific invention and population changes; that 
is, techniques of transmission, as well as industrial development, affected 
the development of water power, and city growth affected stream pollu- 
tion and the pressure for recreational facilities to balance the limitations 
of urban life. The responsibility of the national government for these 
matters was distributed among many agencies, notably the Army Corps 
of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Land Office, and Geo- 
logical Survey of the Department of the Interior, and the Forest 
Service, the Biological Survey, the Weather Bureau, and various research 
units of the Department of Agriculture. Later the Federal Power Com- 
mission was to be created. 

For any one of these agencies to embark on a program relating to land 
use in a community without the most careful integration of its research, 
information, and program of priorities with those of the other agencies 
having responsibilities for land-use programs would be to invite ex- 
pensive and trouble-making distortion of the local ecological pattern. 
The resulting stimulation of a local opinion contemptuous of any action 
by government might have costly consequences at a later time of critical 
need for collective action. Quite as important, however, would be the 
need for a careful dovetailing of national programs, within the national 
powers and resources, with municipal, county, and state programs to 
avoid the development of policy through pork-barrel methods, on the 
one hand, and the neglect of a sound natural resources policy that would 
facilitate local prosperity, on the other. 

All these questions were implicit, but as yet undiscerned, in the 
launching of a positive national forest policy based both upon the idea 
of conserving remaining timber resources on the public domain and 
upon the acquisition of lands for public forests contributing presumably 
to the protection of the watersheds of navigable streams. 26 The require- 
ment of the consent of the state in which land proposed for purchase for 
national forests was located reflected the interweaving of questions of 
local and state taxation, tax delinquency, location of population, with the 
resulting requirements for roads, schools, and other public services. 
Thus was created the need to supplement, but not to supplant, the 

26 Amendments to the Weeks Act passed in 1924 required the survey of lands proposed 
for purchase under the Act by the Secretary of Agriculture "in cooperation with the 
Director of the Geological Survey," a provision recognizing the interrelationship urged 

Pluralism— Growth and Variety of Activities: 1889-1913 29 

policies of one level of government with those of another. Finally, under 
the principle of the matched grant-in-aid, the Weeks Act authorized the 
cooperation of the Secretary of Agriculture with the states in protecting 
forests on the watersheds of navigable streams from fire; thus the re- 
lationship of the Forest Service to state departments of forestry (under 
whatever title) was made as important as that between the Department 
generally and the state experiment stations under the Hatch Act or be- 
tween the various regulatory units of the Department and state market- 
ing agencies. 

Wildlife Program and Intergovernmental Administration 

The Department's wildlife program had its origin in the research 
work undertaken by a Division of Economic Ornithology and Mam- 
malogy established in 1886, which in turn grew out of a Section of 
Ornithology in the Division of Entomology established in the previous 
year. In 1896 the successor to these units, the Division of Biological 
Survey, comprising both economic and biological researches in orni- 
thology, was created; it became a Bureau in 1905. Meanwhile, in 1900 the 
Lacey Act brought the Department into the field of game conservation. 
The Act, to be enforced by the Bureau of Biological Survey, forbade the 
shipment in interstate commerce of wild animals or birds taken in 
violation of state laws — an interesting example of national-state co- 
operation making state legislation effective. 27 

Implicit in this beginning of a national wildlife conservation program, 
as in the launching of positive forest conservation, were important ad- 
ministrative problems. Jurisdictional boundaries and the distribution 
of constitutional powers within the United States, as well as the relations 
of sovereign states in a world system, were in conflict with the flights of 
birds. The relation between wildlife conservation and land- water re- 
sources programs would again compel integration based upon regional 
ecologies. Devices such as the treaty power, the interstate commerce 
power, and the sharing of funds would have to be used in any effective 
wildlife administration. 

27 The Bureau of Biological Survey was transferred to the Interior Department on July 
j j !939> under Reorganization Order No. 2 issued by President Roosevelt. 

Chapter 3 



We have thus far stressed the development, in the sixteen years 
during which James Wilson was Secretary of Agriculture, of 
the Department's older functions and the institution of new 
ones — both destined to create future questions of general departmental, 
interdepartmental, and, indeed, federal administration. Ideas developed 
out of the minutiae of laboratory or field plot, and problems arising in the 
trusteeship of widely scattered forest reservations were to contribute 
eventually to the movement for a more careful planning of coordinated 
programs. An emphasis on expansion and promotion, on the relatively 
unquestioned continuance of what had gone before in American agri- 
culture, was beginning to be questioned more and more in the light of the 
changes in American conditions noted by Turner and others before the 
close of the nineteenth century. In the land-grant colleges and other 
educational institutions new studies were being undertaken in which 
new questions were being asked; and these studies, the embryo social 
sciences, were beginning to find some place and to exert some influence. 
The same influences were at work among civic groups and organizations 
and politics — as we have seen in our discussion of the conservation move- 
ment. President Theodore Roosevelt, during his latter years in office, 
appointed a Country Life Commission whose expenses were defrayed 
in part by the Russell Sage Foundation. 1 We were groping toward a 
richer and wider conception of agriculture as this sector of our economy 
became subject to the questioning that characterized American society 
generally and that was reflected politically in LaFollette's "Progres- 
sivism," Theodore Roosevelt's "New Nationalism," and Woodrow 
Wilson's "New Freedom." The prophecies of Turner were finding 
political realization. 

x See Sir Horace Plunkett, The Rural Life Problem of the United States (1910). The 
members of the Commission were: L. H. Bailey, Chairman, Henry Wallace, Kenyon 
Butterfield, Walter H. Page, Gifford Pinchot, C. S. Barrett, and W. A. Beard. The leading 
ideas of the movement are available in two books by Bailey, The State and the Farmer 
(1908) and The Country Life Movement in the United States (1911); Butterfield's 
Chapters in Rural Progress (1908); and Plunkett, op. cit. In Uncle Henry's Own Story, 
op. cit., Vol. Ill, pp. 100-4, is an account of the Commission. 


Policy and Efforts at Integration: 79/5-29 31 


The increased state intervention in economic life that naturally re- 
sulted from political changes of the period was reflected in legislation 
creating the Federal Reserve System and the Farm Loan System 2 and 
within the Department, in the addition^ of new functions relating to 
the marketing of agricultural products. These functions were assigned 
to a new Office of Markets. The Grain and Cotton Standards Acts (1913), 
the Cotton Futures Act (1914), the Terminal Inspections Act (1915), 
the Warehouse Act (1916), and the Standard Container Act (1917) — all 
were aimed to facilitate the establishment of more exact standards, the 
financing of commodities, the supplying of impartial information con- 
cerning the quality of commodities marketed, and in general the proc- 
esses incident to moving commodities from the producer to the ulti- 
mate seller. The Federal Aid Road Act (1916) reflected the revolutionary 
changes in transportation that the automobile was introducing — changes 
whose influences on marketing we are only beginning to appraise. Its 
administration was given to the Secretary of Agriculture and exercised 
by him through the bureau that had evolved from the Office of Public 
Roads. This agency was destined to exercise major responsibility in 
administering funds first for major trunk highways and later for 
secondary farm-to-market roads; it was to function under conditions 
that would establish important standards in state and even in local 
highway administration and raise far-reaching problems of planning 
about land-use and population factors. 3 

Two measures adopted during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson 
that brought the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior into func- 
tional relationship were the Smith-Hughes Act, passed in 1917, and the 
act establishing the National Park Service in the Interior Department. 
The Park Service has become increasingly significant not only because 
of the pioneering work of high quality marking the program and its 
administration but also because of the increased attention to recreation 
in the United States and because of the present and potential importance 
of recreational land use in many areas. In northern New England and 
New York, the southern Appalachians, the Lake States Cutover Area, 
even in the Great Plains and the arid lands, recreational use has come 
to be an important part of any effective land-use program, and in some 

2 The functions of the Farm Loan Board eventually were allocated to the Farm 
Credit Administration, which in 1939 was placed under the Secretary of Agriculture. See 
below, pp. 254 ff. 

3 See below, p. 148. 

32 Department of Agriculture 

of the regions mentioned it has become the major income-producing 
activity. The idea of an optimum multiple use of the public lands is 
that by proper administration a national forest or a national park may 
serve at once as a recreational area, a water-protection area, a grazing 
area, a wildlife reservation, and a source of lumber. The realization of 
this idea has resulted in a mingling of forest, grazing, recreational, and 
other programs with officials to plan and administer them both in the 
national parks and in the national forests. Here was at once an op- 
portunity for cooperation, a stimulus to new ideas, and also an invitation 
to some institutional jealousy. 

The Smith-Hughes Act, providing for a grant-in-aid system for encour- 
aging state and local programs of vocational education, was in 1939, like 
the Morrill Acts, administered by the Office of Education. Work both 
in agriculture and in home economics was encouraged, and programs 
developed through the public educational systems included both formal 
instruction for youth and adults and club work with boys and girls; 
hence the possibilities of duplication of work by the Extension Service 
and the vocational educational systems, and for friction as well, were 

These larger questions were not yet to the front within the Depart- 
ment while James Wilson was Secretary, although the germs were there. 4 
Questions of land use, of marketing, of the regulation of trades and ex- 
changes, of the adjustment of our policies in these matters and in agri- 
culture generally to changing national and world conditions, as well as 
questions of rural life in a rapidly urbanizing society — all were already 
implicit in the many activities which, coral-like in their growth, had ac- 
cumulated in the Department. It had thought of itself — and had been 
thought of — as essentially a collection of research workers with attaches 
for informational and publication services. Lacking some central dom- 
inating policies as yet, the Department had no apparent need for central 
general-staff services to aid the Secretary in program preparation and 
coordination. A few auxiliary agencies had been created, as we have 
noted — a Library, a Division of Accounts and Disbursements, a Division 
of Publications, a Bureau of Statistics — and in 1905 a Solicitor was added, 
whose role anticipated that of the general staff. 

4 James C. Malin, in "The Background of the First Bills to Establish a Bureau of Markets, 
1911-12," Agricultural History, July, 1932, pp. 107-29, concludes that the Department, 
and the land-grant colleges and experiment stations, had exercised no leadership in the 
movement to study marketing problems and that action was initiated by farm organiza- 
tions such as the Farmers' Union. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: igi^-2g 33 

It was natural that when David F. Houston became Secretary in 1913, 
after the sixteen-year reign of his predecessor, he should reappraise the 
objectives and organization of the Department in the light of changes 
taking place in American life — scientific as well as institutional. He re- 
marks in his memoirs : 5 

I had been more or less in touch with the Department of Agriculture 
for a number of years, and had been dealing with the problems which 
it had to consider. I knew that its main function was to promote more 
efficient production, to improve the processes of marketing, to create 
better credit facilities for the farmer, to make rural life more prof- 
itable and attractive, and to make more of the benefits of modern 
science accrue to the rural population. In that way only could we be 
sure of retaining in the rural districts a sufficient number of con- 
tented, efficient, and reasonably prosperous people. I was aware, too, 
that the farmers' more acute problems were in the field of economics, 
and in this field I was particularly interested. It was one which the 

economists, as a rule, had neglected I had said that the Department 

was the one great developmental agency of the government, and that it 
would interest me. 

The first report of the new Secretary forecast clearly the line of attack 
that would be followed; his request that Congress permit him to pro- 
pose a reorganization of the Department met with an authorization in the 
appropriation acts for the submission of a plan. 6 

We have unmistakably reached the period where we must think and 
plan. We are suffering the penalty of too great ease of living and of 
making a living. It is not singular that we should find ourselves in 
our present plight. Recklessness and waste have been incident to our 
breathless conquest of a nation, and we have had our minds too ex- 
clusively directed to the establishment of industrial supremacy in the 
keen race for competition with foreign nations. We have been so bent 
on building up great industrial centers by every natural and artificial 
device that we have had litde thought for the very foundations of our 
industrial existence. 

In dealing with the problems of production, the department has di- 
rected its attention mainly to the problem of the individual farmer, and 

5 David F. Houston and Helen Basil, Eight Years with Wilson's Cabinet (New York: 
Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1926), Vol. I, pp. 15-16. Secretary Houston had re- 
ceived a master's degree in government at Harvard and taught at the University of Texas. 
He later became president of the land-grant college of that state, from which post he 
went to the chancellorship of Washington University, St. Louis, and thence to the Cabinet. 

8 Report of the Secretary of Agriculture, 1913, p. 19. The Report for 1914 is of great 
interest also for its reiteration of the need for reappraising the place of agriculture in 
national life, references to the Office of Farm Management, government assistance to 
agriculture, and the reorganization of the Department. See pp. 5-6, 16-17, 26, and 44-47- 

34 Department of Agriculture 

the broader economic problems of rural life have received relatively 
little attention. It is now becoming clear that we must definitely and ag- 
gressively approach these newer and, relatively speaking, urgent prob- 
lems. We have been suddenly brought face to face with the fact that 
in many directions further production waits on better distribution and 
that the field of distribution presents problems which raise in very 
grave ways the simple issue of justice. That under existing conditions 
in many instances the farmer does not get what he should for his 
product; that the consumer is required to pay an unfair price; and 
that unnecessary burdens are imposed under the existing systems of 
distribution, there can be no question. 

Just what part of the burden is due to lack of systematic planning, 
or inefficiency and economic waste, or to unfair manipulation, one can 
not say. As difficult as are the problems of production, they are rela- 
tively simple as compared with those of distribution, and there is 
danger not so much that nothing will be done, but that pressure will 
be brought to bear on the department to take action everywhere before 
it is prepared to act intelligently anywhere. The department has given 
assistance here and there in the past; it is prepared to give further as- 
sistance and information now, and it has shaped its projects and in- 
stituted more systematic investigations, which should have results of 
great practical value to individuals and to communities. 

Secretary Houston's striking comment that the nation must "think and 
plan" was a note reflective of the new political climate which had ac- 
companied the doctrines of the "New Freedom." The steps taken to 
implement the new political program were shortly to be complicated by 
the World War and subsequently by the postwar world-wide conditions 
which continued to affect American economy generally and agriculture 
in particular. 7 More immediately, the objectives stated by the Secretary 
would require of the Department a much more positive role in the ap- 
praisal of problems and in the formulation of policies and instruments 
through which legislation based upon them might be administered. In 
policy formulation a new factor became of increasing importance: the 
development of studies of the economic and social aspects of agriculture. 

The application of these new studies, and the more effective application 
of the knowledge of the older sciences, would require a development of 
informational services. Herein lay, in part, the significance of the Depart- 
ment's new Office of Information, of the new Cooperative Extension 
Service in agriculture and home economics, and of the Office of Markets. 
The initiation of these new agencies coincided with the coming of the 
World War; hence, it is difficult to disentangle those aspects of the evolu- 

7 Summarized in Henry A. Wallace, America Must Choose (1934). 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 79/3-29 35 

tion of the Department in this period that reflected forces long developing 
in American life from the more immediate influences of the war. We be- 
lieve, however, that all these factors were operating to make necessary the 
changes in organization that took place from 1914 to 1925, for example, 
and that were required to equip the Department for research, for the 
formulation of national agricultural policies, and for the more effective 
management of its increasingly complex problems of organization, 
budgeting, personnel, and operations generally. Looking back, as we 
do, on these developments, we doubtless read into them too much our 
own concern to detect administrative reflection of changes in political 
economy; yet we believe that current administrative problems and de- 
velopments can be better understood if we search for their origins. 

Social Aspects of Agriculture 

The study of agricultural economics 8 has its origins in various currents 
of study : in agronomy, in the search for the best plans of farm manage- 
ment "within the fences" of the farm, leading naturally to the develop- 
ment of such tools as better methods of farm accounting; in marketing 
farm products, leading to and including price studies and the influences 
of exchanges; in economic history centering on land tenure and settle- 
ment; and in rural sociology. 

Among the pioneers in farm-management studies early in the twenti- 
eth century were, for example, Andrew Boss at Minnesota and George F. 
Warren at the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell. In the 
Bureau of Plant Industry farm-management investigations were insti- 
tuted in 1902 under W. J. Spillman, trained in the natural sciences. 9 

8 We are greatly indebted to Henry C. Taylor, first Chief of the Bureau of Agricultural 
Economics and in 1939 Director of the Farm Foundation, for extending to Mr. Gaus the 
privilege of studying the ms. of his memoirs and discussing with him the development 
of agricultural economics and the early history of the Bureau. The interpretation pre- 
sented here is, of course, one for which we are wholly responsible and draws upon our 
interviews with persons associated with the developments recorded. 

We have been told by "old timers" in the Department, who were there in the pre- 
Houston days, that the term "economist" was in bad repute, as it connoted either a free- 
trader or a socialist. Richard T. Ely records in his memoirs, Ground Under Our Feet 
(New York: Macmillan Company, 1938), p. 124, the disparaging view of economics taken 
forty years ago: "My father said to me, not long before 1885, something like this: 
'Richard, you are a young man. Some day you will want to get married and have a 
family. How can you expect that economics will support you?' It was well along toward 
the middle of the nineties when Henry C. Taylor received the same admonition from 
Secretary of Agriculture Wilson. Secretary Wilson advised him, 'Take up a practical 
subject like plant pathology and I will give you a job.' " 

"Most of the early agricultural economists and some of the rural sociologists had re- 
ceived their first training in natural science and were horticulturists, agronomists, entomolo- 
gists, and pomologists. Messrs. Galpin, Nourse, and Nils Olsen, however, entered upon 
their special fields after liberal arts training. Note the editorial in Wallace's Farmer, 

36 Department of Agriculture 

H. C. Taylor was brought to the University of Wisconsin by Richard T. 
Ely, whose interest in land economics was of long standing, and in 1902 
began to lecture on the subject of "agricultural economics," drawing 
upon physical, biological, and economic-sociological materials for his 
subject matter. The influences of Messrs. Ely, the historian Turner, and 
the geologist Van Hise were contributory to the shaping of Mr. Taylor's 
ideas of the subject; the first edition of his textbook on agricultural 
economics appeared in 1905. In 1908 O. C. Stine and O. E. Baker, who 
had studied with him, joined the staff of W. J. Spillman; all these men 
had a part in developing the program of what became eventually the 
Bureau of Agricultural Economics. In the first two decades of the 
twentieth century there was much discussion and uncertainty about the 
proper content and range of methods of agricultural economics; but the 
shift from a more self-sufficing farm economy to one that was brought 
within the full play of influences of a world price system led to a wider 
conception and to increasing interest in the field. 

Studies in rural sociology had developed slowly at a few universities in 
the first decade of the century. Charles Horton Cooley records: 10 

In the fall of 1901 Kenyon L. Butterfield came to the University [of 
Michigan] for graduate work. He was already an ardent student of 
country life, and one year later, by the aid of Professor [H. C] Adams, 
who immediately recognized his personal promise and the importance 
of his subject, he was appointed Lecturer on Rural Sociology. So far as 
I know (or Mr. Butterfield, now [1928] President of Michigan State 
College), this was the first use of that term. I do not remember who 
suggested it, probably Butterfield himself. He left at the end of the 
year and the course was not revived until some ten years later. 

Charles J. Galpin 11 notes the paucity of teaching materials in his field 
when he began to teach rural sociology, at the suggestion of H. C. Taylor, 
at the University of Wisconsin in 1911-12. Among those with whom Sec- 
retary Houston consulted about the formulation of new policies for the 
Department was his old friend, Thomas Nixon Carver, professor in the 
Department of Economics at Harvard University. 12 Studies of rural corn- 
November 6, 1926, "Farm Management vs. Agricultural Economics." See also Journal 
of Farm Economics, November, 1939, for articles on the development of the statistical 
work of the Department; see also Henry C. Taylor, "Early History of Agricultural 
Economics in the United States," Journal of Farm Economics, February, 1940, pp. 84-97, 
and the discussion of this paper, pp. 98-137. 

10 "The Development of Sociology at Michigan," Sociological Theory and Social 
Research (1930), p. 11. 

u My Drift into Rural Sociology — Memoirs of Charles Josiah Galpin (1938). 

12 Mr. Carver was the author of one of the earliest texts on the social aspects of agri- 
culture: Principles of Rural Economics (191 1). 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: igi^-2g 37 

munity life had been initiated by Mr. Carver with the financial support 
of the General Education Board of New York, which had assisted in 
the pioneer agricultural extension programs undertaken in the southern 
states. Through his advice work in rural community studies was in- 
itiated in the Department; he served as "Director of the Rural Organiza- 
tion Service" in 1913-14 and remained as "Adviser in Agricultural 
Economics" during the following fiscal year. The new emphasis that 
Secretary Houston conveyed to the work of the Department was reflected 
in the establishment of the Office of Markets and Rural Organization, 
which became, in 1917, the Bureau of Markets. 13 The studies that were 
begun by Mr. Carver (and which were reflected in the bulletin entitled 
"The Organization of a Rural Community") were continued by Carl 
W. Thompson. On July 1, 1919, work in this field was transferred to a 
Division of Farm Life Studies in the Office of Farm Management. Mr. 
Galpin was brought from the University of Wisconsin to take charge of 
this Division, and Mr. Thompson became Chief of the Division of Co^ 
operative Marketing. In 1921 the Division became, with the Office of 
Farm Management, part of the new B.A.E. 14 

The attachment of the Office of Farm Management directly to the 
Office of the Secretary was significant, as Secretary Houston recognized 
when he remarked in his report for 1914: 15 

Farm management conceives the farm as a whole. Its problem is not 
primarily a Plant Industry problem. It is rather a business or economic 
problem. It is not one for which the agronomist has necessarily the 

13 The importance of the establishment of the Office of Markets and Rural Organiza- 
tion was noted by the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, Carl Vrooman, in an article, 
"Meeting the Farmer Halfway," Yearbook, of the Department of Agriculture, 191 6, pp. 
70-71: "The creation of this office was an innovation of epoch-making significance. 
Ever since the department was started the farmers of the country have been requesting 
the Government to help them solve their economic problems, have been urging the 
utter hopelessness of the attempt to build a successful agriculture upon the doctrine of 
increased production, without regard to the equally important problems of marketing 
and distribution. But owing to the mistaken theory that everybody is interested in in- 
creasing agricultural production, while nobody but the farmer is interested in making 
that production profitable, until recently no important attempt was made by Congress, 
by the agricultural colleges, or by the Federal Department of Agriculture to help the 
farmer solve his financial and economic problems." 

In the reorganization of the Department in 1938 the marketing services were separated 
from the B.A.E. to become, as the Agricultural Marketing Service, a part of a group of 
activities supervised by the Director of Marketing and Regulatory Work. The B.A.E. thus 
became a general-staff agency, freed from operating responsibilities. 

14 On these developments see D wight Sanderson, "The Beginnings of Rural Sociology 
in the United States Department of Agriculture," Rural Sociology, June, 1939, p. 219; 
"The Work of the Division of Farm Population and Rural Life of the Bureau of Agri- 
cultural Economics of the U. S. Department of Agriculture," ibid., p. 221. Mr. Sander- 
son points out that the American Country Life Association was founded in 191 8. 

^Report of the Secretary of Agriculture, 1914, pp. 61-62. 

38 Department of Agriculture 

requisite training, although the service of the agronomist as well as 
the services of experts of other bureaus are invoked. Since its function 
is that of studying the farm from the business point of view in all its 
aspects, it seemed advisable to relate the office to that of the Secretary, 
so that the officers might feel conscious of no bureau limitations. 
Similar considerations led to the conclusion that the farm-demonstra- 
tion work should not be attached to a particular bureau. Heretofore, 
the agents in this work, attached as they have been to the Bureau of 
Plant Industry, have experienced some embarrassment in demonstrat- 
ing things coming within the work of other bureaus. Obviously the 
farm demonstrator must be prepared to demonstrate anything the 
department has of value to the farmer. He can not conceive of the 
farm partially. . . . The direct-farm demonstration work is similar 
to the work which will be carried on under the extension act, and, as 
has been stated, arrangements have been made for coordinating it with 
the work under the extension act. 

The Extension Service 

The Extension Act, or Smith-Lever Act, had just been passed (May 8, 
1914) when the report, quoted above, was drafted. It applied the increas- 
ingly used grant-in-aid principle to extension work in agriculture and 
home economics undertaken by states and counties, the beginnings of 
which in various regions have already been noted. Formal agreements 
adopted by the Department and by the land-grant colleges followed from 
the provisions of the Act that "this work shall be carried on in such man- 
ner as may be mutually agreed upon by the Secretary of Agriculture and 
the State agricultural college or colleges receiving the benefits of this 
Act." 16 An outright grant to each state was provided, and larger addi- 
tional funds were made available upon matching by states "in the pro- 
portion which the rural population of each State bears to the total rural 
population of all the States as determined by the next preceding Federal 
census," 17 and upon the approval each year of the "plans for the work to 
be carried on" by the "proper officials of each college" and the Secretary. 18 
The state extension services, the state agricultural experiment stations, 

16 Laws Applicable to the United States Department of Agriculture (1935), p. 153. 
Essential information about the Extension Service is in Misc. Pub. No. 15 of the De- 
partment of Agriculture, A History of Agricultural Extension Wor\ in the United States, 
1785-1923 by Alfred C. True, and No. 285, Federal Legislation, Regulations and 
Rulings Affecting Cooperative Extension Wor\ in Agriculture and Home Economics 
(rev. ed., 1938). See also Gladys Baker, The County Agent (1939) and Russell 
Lord, The Agrarian Revival (1939), which are indispensable to the student of agricul- 
tural administration. For an account of the Smith-Lever Act see Lord, ibid., pp. 86-99. 

17 Laws Applicable to the United States Department of Agriculture (1935), pp. 153-54. 

18 For laws relating to the extension program see ibid., pp. 152-56. The amounts avail- 
able have been increased and other changes have been made since the Smith-Lever Act 
was passed. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1913-29 39 

and the colleges of agriculture and home economics constitute in each 
state an institutional cluster whose significance for the study of federal- 
ism in action has been too much neglected by political scientists. 19 
Through grants-in-aid, formal agreements, conference, and informal 
consultation, research and informational services have been distributed 
among three levels of government. While the system has problems and 
inevitable strains, because of divergent institutional loyalties and political 
allegiances, it is also a most remarkable example of the association of 
functional interest groups in local communities with three levels of 

Perhaps it is significant also that the new interest in the social aspects 
of agriculture paralleled women's participation in higher educational 
institutions and in politics. The work of the Bureau of Home Eco- 
nomics in 1939 had its origins in the informational services for the home- 
demonstration agents and in the home economics work undertaken by 
the land-grant colleges and the experiment stations with the assistance 
of the Office of Experiment Stations. By 1890 four of the land-grant 
colleges had departments of domestic science. An organized movement 
for encouraging work in this subject generally was instituted in 1899 
at a meeting at the Lake Placid Club under the chairmanship of Mrs. 
Ellen Richards, a pioneer in this field, and with the support of Melvil 
Dewey, a pioneer in many causes, including library work. Mr. Dewey 
had included the subject that is now termed "home economics" in his 
library classification system under the term "production." It is interesting 
that this conference, which was the first of a series of annual conferences, 
definitely called the subject "home economics" and placed it under the 
larger classification of "economics of consumption." Neither the land- 
grant colleges nor the national government had representatives at this 
first conference; Mr. Atwater, however, who was carrying on research 
at Wesleyan University on nutrition problems in collaboration with the 
Office of Experiment Stations, communicated with it. At the second 
conference, a year later, a representative of a land-grant college was 
present; subsequently these institutions, of course, played an important 
part in the movement. After ten years of these conferences the American 
Home Economics Association was organized. 20 

19 Note, however, Gladys Baker, op. cit., as well as the writings of Key, Gettys, and 
Clark previously cited. 

The Association issues a list of its publications in which are cited a number of 
pamphlets, books, and reprints, giving an account of the history of this movement 
and of the organization. Note, for example, True, "The Lake Placid Conferences, 1899- 
1908," Journal of Home Economics, April, 1928; Caroline L. Hunt, The Life of Ellen H. 

40 Department of Agriculture 

Woodrow Wilson's "New Freedom" program gave some reflection to 
a number of the social movements that had been pressing for legislative 
and administrative expression. The establishment of a separate Depart- 
ment of Labor and the organization in it of the Children's Bureau under 
Julia Lathrop are illustrations of the new tendencies. We have seen that 
Secretary Houston had emphasized the wider economic and develop- 
mental role that he felt the Department of Agriculture should play. In 
his first report he also referred to the need for a recognition of the family 
aspect of agricultural life. 21 

The department believes that intelligent help to women in matters 
of home management will contribute directly to the agricultural suc- 
cess of the farm. It purposes, therefore, to ask Congress for means and 
authority to make more complete studies of domestic conditions on the 
farm, to experiment with labor-saving devices and methods, and to 
study completely the question of practical sanitation and hygienic 
protection for the farm family. 

The farmer's wife rarely has access to the cities where labor-saving 
devices are on competitive exhibit, nor does she often meet with other 
women who are trying these devices and gain from them first-hand 
information. It seems important, therefore, that the department, co- 
operating with the proper State institutions, should be ready to give 
the farm home practical advice. 

Consequently, a new agency, the States Relations Service, was set up in- 
cluding the Office of Home Economics, the Office of Experiment Sta- 
tions, and two Offices of Cooperative Demonstration Work (North and 
South). 22 

Departmental Organization 

Secretary Houston's conception of the Department as a developmental 
agency "in the period where we must think and plan," and the fact, too, 
that prior to his appointment the Department had been under one Sec- 

Richards (1912); Benjamin R. Andrews, "The Thirtieth Birthday," Journal of Home 
Economics, February, 1939; "Your Bureau of Home Economics — Fifteen Years A- 
Growing," National Magazine of the Home Economics Student Clubs, April, 1938; 
Kathryn Van Aken Burns, "Home Economics and the Agricultural Program," Journal 
of Home Economics, February, 1938; "Martha Van Rensselaer, 1864-1932," Journal 
of Home Economics, September, 1932. 

zl Report of the Secretary of Agriculture, 1913, p. 30. 

22 See True, A History of Agricultural Extension Wor\ in the United States, 1785-1923, 
especially pp. 127 ff. See also Key, op. cit. In 1923 these agencies were reorganized into 
separate units as the Bureau of Home Economics, the Office of Experiment Stations, and 
the Extension Service. It was an organization auxiliary rather than operating in nature, 
facilitating the supply of services of all the bureaus of the Department to land -grant 
institutions and farm families. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 79/3-29 41 

retary for sixteen years, made natural his attention to a reappraisal of 
policy and organization. Changes resulted in general departmental star? 
and auxiliary services. 23 To counsel him in making these changes, the 
Secretary appointed an informal advisory committee of agricultural 
economists that included Messrs. Carver of Harvard, Warren of Cornell, 
Boss of Minnesota, Taylor of Wisconsin, Foord of Massachusetts, Fal- 
coner of Ohio, Adams of California, and Christie, the Assistant Secretary 
of the Department. The Secretary's administrative assistant 24 organized 
the flow of business in the Secretary's Office, to which were attached the 
Offices of the Chief Clerk, of Information, of Inspection, of Exhibits, of 
Forest Appeals, and of the Solicitor. The information program was de- 
veloped in part from advice given to the Secretary and the Department 
by Walter Hines Page, who, in Houston's opinion, should have been 
made Secretary and who, with T. N. Carver, had been consulted early 
in the new administration on the problems of the Department. 

Effects of the World War 

The dominant factors affecting the Department from 1917 were natu- 
rally those arising out of our entrance into the World War. Agricultural 
production had mounted with the markets and prices developing from 
1914; new efforts were required in order further to increase food produc- 
tion, reduce wastes in processing and distribution, provide labor to re- 
place that which would be engaged in the armed services, and in general 
to carry out the provisions of the Food Production Act. Conferences were 
called by the Secretary in Berkeley, California, and in St. Louis, Missouri, 
early in April, 1917, at which state and land-grant officials and "other 
leaders of agricultural opinion" were present and a program was 
drafted. 25 

It is noteworthy that, in two days, the agricultural leaders of the coun- 
try drew up a programme the wisdom of the essential features of which 
has not been successfully questioned and the substantial part of which 
was embodied in two bills. The prompt and effective handling of the 

23 Another change in the Department announced by the Secretary was the rearrange- 
ment of functions to constitute an Office of Public Roads and Rural Engineering. Even- 
tually these were split, with the development of the huge federal-aid roads program, 
into a Bureau of Public Roads and a Bureau of Agricultural Engineering. The latter later 
underwent further change by association with the physical research work of the Bureau 
of Chemistry. 

24 Floyd Harrison, a career official of the Department from what would today be 
called the "C.A.F." service. His duties developed into an assignment not unlike that of 
an English permanent undersecretary, somewhat, we suspect from a few conversations, 
to the resentment of some of the bureau chiefs of scientific careers. The same tension has 
been observable in the English civil service on occasion. 

25 Houston and Basil, op. cit., p. 261. 

42 Department of Agriculture 

situation was made possible by reason of the fact that the American 
people, generations before, had wisely laid the foundations of many 
agricultural institutions and had increasingly liberally supported them. 
The nation was fortunate in having had in existence for many years, 
for the purpose of promoting scientific and practical agriculture, its 
Federal Department of Agriculture, and a department of agriculture 
and a Land Grant college in each state, as well as great farmers' or- 

This quotation is Secretary Houston's summary of the agricultural 
institutions of the country in 1917. One effect of the war program on per- 
sonnel was the expansion of the programs and personnel of the Bureau 
of Markets and Cooperative Extension Service. Another effect, equally 
important, was the stimulation of organization and growth in prestige of 
agricultural interest-group associations, which the Department called 
into conferences on programs. They began to think more and more in 
terms of governmental policy and of the services of their Washington 
offices which these developments made necessary, 26 and they were of- 
ficially consulted through the National Agricultural Advisory Commit- 
tee 27 established to advise the Department of Agriculture and the Food 

In the long run there finally emerged the tremendous problems 
of readjustment of prices, debts, land use, and all other basic factors 
in agriculture. One sees in this special field an application of the 
general truth that just when the United States was beginning to face its 
neglected problems of readjustment to a new America, the World War 
came to arrest its efforts, even to suppress them, and to complicate and 
exacerbate its problems. 28 We have seen how clearly Secretary Houston 
envisaged the need for reappraising the place of agriculture in our 
national economy and the functions and the organization of the Depart- 
ment itself. No sooner had his first efforts begun to take effect than the 
war came, to create additional problems with which the nation and the 
Department were to be confronted continuously thereafter. 

Undoubtedly the emergency program helped to float the new Exten- 
sion Service into wide acceptance, especially in areas where as yet it had 

26 We have had the privilege of reading the ms. of Alice Margaret Christensen's 
valuable study, "Agricultural Pressure and Government Response in the United States: 
191 9-1929," in the early pages of which the influence of the war on the development of 
farm pressure groups is described. A ms. copy of this study is in the Library of the 
University of California. 

27 Its membership is given in Houston and Basil, op. cit., pp. 343-44. 

28 Note the dramatic presentation of the disastrous effect of the war on the expansion 
of wheat farming in the film, "The Plow That Broke the Plains." See also Jacks and 
Whyte, op. cit. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 79/5-29 43 

not been introduced. As a result, there was a great stimulus to the or- 
ganization of local farm bureaus to facilitate the work and to bring local 
support. All parts of the work — agricultural, home economics, boys' 
and girls' clubs — shared in this expansion; the most varied and heavy 
burdens fell upon the agents — a situation paralleled in later years with 
the programs instituted to meet the depression emergencies. 

The Houston Period Reviewed 

We may well conclude our discussion of the Houston secretaryship 
with some contemporary summaries, including comment of his own; we 
do so with the warning and reminder that the development of functions 
and of administrative organization has not been sharply broken by 
changes in party control since Secretary Houston's time. The reorganiza- 
tion of the "New Freedom" Department extended over a ten-year period 
and may properly be called the Houston-H. C. Wallace program. The 
Department was becoming so large and varied, it had become so sen- 
sitively adjusted to so many important factors in the American political 
economy, that while a Secretary could influence its development he 
could not dominate it. 29 Edward Wiest remarks : 30 

The administrative or overhead functions always remain more or less 
close to the secretary's office, while the bureaus, to which are com- 
mitted the various differentiated projects of the department, are 
headed by a chief or director and are much farther removed from the 
supervision of the Secretary or his assistants. Over some bureaus like 
the Weather Bureau, for instance, the secretary exercises only a 
nominal control. 

This note of recognition of an emergence of what we term a general- 
stafif and an auxiliary function is sounded also by William L. Wanlass : 31 

Those functions which relate to the department as a whole have been 
assigned to units which although not forming a part of any bureau, 
are ranked as divisions, whose principal officers are directly respon- 
sible to the department head. . . . Still other activities are, for various 
reasons, carried on by units which form integral parts of the Secre- 
tary's office. These subdivisions are designated as offices. . . . 

This general plan of organization, with its rather numerous divisions 
and subdivisions has been criticised as constituting too wide a gap 

29 By 1919 its personnel was over 22,000, as listed in the Federal Register; the largest 
agencies were the Bureau of Animal Industry with 4,700 employees, the Forest Service 
with 2,800, the Bureau of Plant Industry with 1,700, and the Bureau of Markets with 

30 Op. at., p. 36. 

21 Op. cit., pp. 39-41. 

44 Department of Agriculture 

between those officers who are directly engaged in doing the actual 
work of the department and those who are responsible for the success 
or failure of that work. Such a condition, it is asserted, is conducive 
to what is called government "red-tape" and the consequent loss of 
energy and proper understanding. It is true that many of the principal 
administrative officers have a very inadequate appreciation of some of 
the work which they are directing. 

In an organization whose activities are fairly unified, or which are 
sufficiently simple that they might be grasped in some detail by one 
or a few men, such a criticism as the above would be valid. But in an 
institution such as the Department of Agriculture, with its extensive 
field of operation and its multiplicity of diverse activities, it is impos- 
sible for one man to obtain a comprehensive grasp of the whole. The 
same is largely true even in some of the larger bureaus. Chiefs of 
bureaus are not always sufficiently familiar with the details of their re- 
spective functions to give them the most effective direction and co- 
ordination. Furthermore, these men are for the most part trained 
scientists and not trained administrators. Frequently, their special 
scientific interests claim their time and attention to the detriment of 
other equally important administrative problems. 

Secretary Houston himself, in his memoirs, 32 lists as the most im- 
portant achievements of his secretaryship the increase in appropriations 
for the support of the "regular activities" from $24,000,000 to $36,000,000; 
the development of informational work and creation of the Office of 
Information; the establishment of the Extension Service and the Office 
of Markets and Rural Organization; the reorganization of the Depart- 
ment, and particularly the attachment of the Office of Farm Manage- 
ment and the States Relations Service to the Secretary's Office; the 
passage of the Cotton Futures, Grain Standards, and Warehouse Acts; 
the improvement of farm credit through the Federal Reserve and Farm 
Loan Acts; and passage of the Federal Aid Road Act. 

We have a valuable means of comparison of the nature of the De- 
partment in 1920 with that of twenty years later in the study by Wil- 
liam L. Wanlass published in that year. The aim of this study was to 
"describe, examine, and criticize the conduct of this administrative 
work," as distinct from its "research and educational activities." After 
a brief history of agricultural legislation in the United States with 
particular reference to the Department's evolution, the author describes 
the organization, cooperative relations with the states, the administra- 
tion of the more important regulatory laws, and the financial adminis- 
tration of the Department. His interpretation of the changes initiated 

82 Op. cit., pp. 199-210. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1913-29 45 

under Secretary Houston seems to be amply supported by the later 
history of the Department; his suggestions about the relations between 
the Department and Congress in budget matters anticipate in part the 
later developments. He notes the effort to equip the Department as a 
whole through the Office of the Secretary with those instruments that 
we have designated as auxiliary services; what we have termed the 
general staff was not, at that time, discernible. 33 Some of the appraisals 
by Mr. Wanlass follow: 34 

Contrary to the prevalent opinion, the activities of the Department 
of Agriculture are by no means limited to the protection or promotion 
of the interests of any one class or of any one industry. . . . Numer- 
ous and diverse as are the functions of the Department of Agriculture, 
they are still more nearly homogeneous in character than are those of 
most of the executive departments . . . this has made possible a rela- 
tively simple organization. The reorganization effected in 1915, while 
disturbing only slightly the previous structure, secured a much more 
logical and effective grouping of the various functions to be performed. 
In perfecting the present organization, the department head was given 
a degree of freedom by Congress not usually enjoyed by administra- 
tive officers. 

Mr. Wanlass touches briefly on the problem of functional relations 
with other departments: he notes that the administration of the Food 
and Drugs Act might seem more properly to be the duty of the U. S. 
Public Health Service except for the presence in the Department of 
extensive laboratory facilities .and of a staff of chemists and bacteri- 
ologists; he also notes that other functions required careful adjustment 
with those assigned to the Department of the Interior. He records the 
contemporary criticism of the publications of the Department and of 
their distribution and notes improvement in this activity. He hints at 
possible future difficulties in the extension program because of farmer 
resentment at "interference"; he concludes on a note that could be 
echoed in 1939: the difficulty in developing adequate techniques and 
procedures whereby Congress may serve as a general control. "As 
Professor Willoughby says, it is due to the failure of Congress to conceive 

^Nevertheless, an important eventual constituent element was shortly to be established 
in the B.A.E., and something of a general-staff function was already being performed 
at times by the Solicitor, the administrative assistant to the Secretary, and the Chief of 
the Office of Farm Management in the latter part of Houston's administration. Perhaps 
we overstress the possibility of an approach to a general-staff type of service at this time, 
because we are looking back twenty-five years from a time when it is recognized; yet we 
believe that we can see the need creating a beginning of institutional development, not 
clearly recognized at that time. The work of Mr. Harrison and of H. C. Taylor as Chief of 
the Office of Farm Management seems to us of that type. 

84 Op. cit., pp. 109-14. 

46 Department of Agriculture 

of itself as a board of directors supervising and controlling a great 
enterprise." 35 Mr. Wanlass' final paragraph is, particularly interesting 
to those who have been following, twenty years later, the efforts to 
effect administrative reorganization. 36 

In concluding an administrative study of one of the great departments 
of government, perhaps the strongest impression one receives is that, 
while a given department may make, or fail to make, many minor im- 
provements which, if made, would go far toward more effective ad- 
ministration, there can be nothing like an adequate solution of our 
administrative problems short of a complete reorganization and 
revivifying of the system as a whole. There are ever increasing 
evidences that important changes will be made in the not distant 

In an appendix Mr. Wanlass 37 presents an outline of the Depart- 
ment's organization as of the fiscal year 1917 (prior to April 6, 1917, 
when we entered the World War). He divides the administrative 
units into two categories : institutional and functional. The first includes 
all the administrative units, and only those, in the Office of the Secre- 
tary : the "Secretary's Office proper," Assistant Secretary's Office, Solici- 
tor's Office, Disbursing Office, Library, Chief Clerk's Office, Mechanical 
Superintendent's Office, and the Offices of Information, Inspection, 
Exhibits, and Forest Appeals. He places the following in the category 
of "functional units": Office of Farm Management, Weather Bureau, 
Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Plant Industry, Forest Service, 
Bureau of Chemistry, Bureau of Soils, Bureau of Entomology, Bureau 
of Biological Survey, Division of Publications, Bureau of Crop Esti- 
mates, States Relations Service, Office of Public Roads and Rural Engi- 
neering, Bureau of Markets, the Insecticide and Fungicide Board, and 
the Federal Horticultural Board. 

Our own basis for classifying administrative units leads us to place 
the Office of Farm Management, the States Relations Service (which 
then included what later became the Office of Extension Service and 
Office of Experiment Stations), the Division of Publications, and some 
of the research work of the Bureau of Markets in the category of 
"institutional units," or, as we prefer to say, among the general-staff 

*!bid., p. 114. 

88 Doubtless Mr. Wanlass refers here to promises made by the Republicans in the 
campaign of 1920 to reorganize the government upon coming into power. A Joint 
Committee consisting of three members each of the House and Senate and a representative 
of the President submitted a report, but no action was taken. References to the relevant 
documents are conveniently given in Lewis Meriam and Laurence Schmeckebier, Re- 
organization of the National Government (1939). 

37 Op. cit., pp. 1 15-18. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 79/3-29 47 

and auxiliary services. Nevertheless, we think it significant that Mr. 
Wanlass, writing when he did and observing the reorganization of the 
Department under Mr. Houston from within, stresses the recognition 
of the more general problems of administration that had arisen from 
the expansion and increasing variety of subject-matter legislation. Ap- 
parently what had not then impressed itself generally upon students 
of administration (and has not yet done so sufficiently) was the need 
for a more conscious and continuous appraisal of the program and 
equipment of an executive department to insure an effective control 
of all its activities for the purpose of realizing the fundamental objec- 
tives assigned to it by Congress. The task of appraisal and research 
concerning the political-economic-social problems of agriculture, as 
well as the role of government in these problems, was, however, shortly 
to be more consciously recognized in the establishment of the Bureau 
of Agricultural Economics. 38 


The Bureau of Agricultural Economics 

This Bureau was formed in 1922 by the consolidation of the Office 
of Farm Management, the Bureau of Crop Estimates, and the Bureau 
of Markets; it reflected the increasing attention given to studies of 
agriculture "outside the fences," as well as the emergence of agricultural 
economics and rural sociology in the curricula of a few institutions of 
higher learning. The currents of influence and experience that joined 
to produce the program of the new unit cut across party changes and 
changes in the secretaryship. Crop-reporting work, for example, was 
as old as the Department itself. 39 The work of Messrs. Spillman in 
farm management, instituted in the Bureau of Plant Industry, Baker 
in developing an Atlas of Agriculture of a comprehensive natural re- 
sources scope, Stine in agricultural history, Brand in marketing prob- 
lems, is well known. When Henry C. Taylor became Chief of the 
Office of Farm Management in April, 1919, F. W. Peck was brought 
from the University of Minnesota to work on costs of production; 
L. C. Gray from Peabody College to work on land economics; and 
C. J. Galpin from the University of Wisconsin to undertake studies 
in rural life. Conscious effort was made to cut across bureau lines in 

88 A master's thesis at the Graduate School of the American University by Kenneth O. 
Wernimont, "The Bureau of Agricultural Economics as a Functional Unit of the Federal 
Government" (1937), shows the evolution of the Bureau. 

39 See the pamphlet, "Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the United States Crop Reporting 
Service (1863-1938)," issued by the B.A.E., May, 1938. 

48 Department of Agriculture 

research programs through committees and conferences. Work initiated 
under Secretary Houston continued under Secretaries Meredith and 
Henry C. Wallace, 40 who became Secretary upon the accession of 
Harding to the presidency. On July 1, 1921, Secretary Wallace appointed 
Henry C. Taylor chief of the new Bureau, the program of which had 
been under discussion for some time by a departmental committee 
under the chairmanship of Assistant Secretary E. D. Ball. The new 
Bureau had 1,800 employees; two assistant chiefs, a business manager, 
and an employment manager were included in the overhead manage- 
ment personnel. The Bureau's functions included both the extensive 
operating tasks incident to various market and exchange service and 
regulatory duties, as well as the informational and research activities 
already mentioned. 

Changed Conditions Facing the B.A.E. 

For the newer conception of a function of analysis and appraisal of 
social and economic factors affecting the individual farm, a broader 
economic training, as well as training in more refined statistical tech- 
niques, was required, and in-service training was instituted. Studies of 
farm prices and costs in relation to general price trends, production 
trends, intentions to plant or breed, and demand trends, for example, 
had to be re-evaluated in the light of important changes in American 
and world political economy. These changes had their inevitable 
political repercussion. The United States was at once confronted, at 
the close of the World War, with readjustment to its internal problems 
centering in the closing of the frontier — the attempted solutions of 
which had been arrested by our entrance into the war — and to its 
changed position externally. Secretary Houston records, in his memoirs, 
the first appearance of the problem which was to persist. 41 

We were no sooner out of the difficulties presented by the high cost 
of living than we were confronted by a more difficult situation, that 
caused by the sharp decline of prices of agricultural commodities, 
about midsummer and thereafter. The first impulse of many who were 
hit by the declining prices was to turn to the government, and espe- 
cially to the Treasury, as the sole recourse for their salvation. This dis- 
position had developed before the war. It was reinforced during 
hostilities. I was flooded by letters demanding that the Treasury do 
something. Many delegations appeared, insistently urging that the 

*°His father, Henry Wallace, had been influential in the selection of James Wilson 
for the secretaryship, and his son, Henry A. Wallace, was the Secretary at the time of 
this study. 

"Houston and Basil, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 103-5. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 79/3-29 49 

Treasury see that the high prices that had prevailed were maintained, 
and even demanding that in some way they be enabled to secure even 
higher prices. 

Some of the more important factors of the setting in which the new 
Bureau was placed are given in this comment. Other factors were also 
present. The shock sustained by farm products in the world market was 
not shared, farmers believed, by American goods marketed at home 
behind the shelter of protective tariffs; mortgage interest rates and 
payments on lands that had been purchased during the war in order 
to profit from the national program of expanding production of food- 
stuffs and fibers were mocked by the swift collapse in farm-land values 
except in selected boom areas. Farm commodities had in the past been 
exported in huge quantities in payment of capital and interest obliga- 
tions because of our century-old dependence upon European investors, 
but the war had caused the liquidation of this status. The fear of 
European states of dependency upon imports in the event of further 
warfare resulted also — in default of any effective guarantees of collec- 
tive action to prevent and suppress war — in policies of subsidization of 
agriculture and of encouragement of self-sufficiency, which were sub- 
sequently carried to extreme length. 42 The collapse of farmer purchas- 
ing power was felt not only by banks and retailers in the districts 
affected — and notably and earliest in the wheat and cotton regions — but 
also by the mail-order houses and the manufacturers of farm equip- 
ment. 43 Ironically enough, the war had been an important contributing 
factor in the rise of a new and influential pressure group in agriculture, 
the American Farm Bureau Federation, which had developed out of 
the county farmer organizations, sponsoring, and in some states shar- 
ing in, the financing and direction of the Cooperative Extension 
Service through its many constituent local units, the county farm 
bureaus. 44 

42 For an excellent brief and balanced statement of the postwar situation affecting 
American agriculture and political economy generally see Henry A. Wallace, America 
Must Choose (1934). 

^A valuable bibliography in A. M. Christensen's ms., op. cit., reflects the variety of 
forces and alliances in the farm-aid movement. See also E. Pendleton Herring, Group 
Representation Before Congress (1929), especially chap, vii, "The Embattled Farmers at 
Washington." Of special value are Edwin G. Nourse, American Agriculture and the 
European Market (1924), Joseph S. Davis, On Agricultural Policy (1939), and John D. 
Black, Agricultural Reform in the United States (1929) for interpretations of the economic 
factors. In Why Quit Our Own? (1936), George Peek (with Samuel Crowther) describes 
in part his association, and that of Hugh Johnson, with the farm pressure groups and 
reveals the interconnections of the farm organizations with manufacturing and financial 
interests in these movements. 

"Christensen, op. cit., p. 8. 

50 Department of Agriculture 

New Research and Informational Services under the B.A.E. 

We mention these well-known facts because the development of a 
more general economic research and informational service in the De- 
partment through the B.A.E. at this particular time was bound to have 
a significant influence upon the views and policies of those active in 
the various farm-aid movements. Efforts to measure costs and income 
"outside the fences" would invite comparisons, and before long such 
slogans could be heard as "equality for agriculture," "parity prices," 
and "make the tariff effective for agriculture." Inevitably the work of 
civil servants engaged on research in the relations of agriculture to 
other aspects of American life would not only affect the more specialized 
types of research into problems of a particular commodity or plant or 
animal but also would raise difficult questions of regional and national 

The establishment in the B.A.E. of an "Agricultural Outlook Report" 
service based upon the older, as well as the expanded research and 
informational, work of the Department was also significant of the 
effort to assist agricultural adjustment. This was inaugurated in 1923, 
following a conference called by the Bureau at which were present 
economists and statisticians from various universities, government de- 
partments, and business firms. Outlook reports were designed to assist 
in the better adjustment of production to the important factors of 
supply, demand, costs, and price; with their forecasts of probable 
trends they offered obvious risks. The effectiveness of the staff would 
be tested by events; then, too, a good many vested interests profiting 
in the past from the ignorance of some groups in the industry might 
well dislike the publication of such material. Some argued that the 
publication of data on available supply, for example, affected adversely 
prices to the farmer or to some other group. Here, as in the publication 
of crop reports (carefully protected to prevent the corrupt acquisition 
of information in advance for purposes of speculation), 45 the mere 
supplying of data might be resented and might cause some group to 
retaliate by attacking the Department through appropriation bills. 
Thus the role of supplying information, seemingly innocuous, becomes, 
in our sensitive and interdependent economy, as important as it is diffi- 
cult, particularly if the agency undertaking the task is regarded by 
many as inevitably biased in favor of some interest group — and most 

45 See the pamphlet "Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the United States Crop Reporting 
Service," op. cit., where illustrations are given of safeguarding the work of the Crop 
Reporting Board by the disconnection of phones, drawing of blinds, placing of guards, etc. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1913-29 51 

government agencies are so regarded. Here is a type of government 
work, however, in which the civil servant, while anonymous, neverthe- 
less has the stimulus of knowing that the published result will be 
subjected to the sharpest scrutiny and the fiercest attack. 

The older activities of the agencies that had been merged to form 
the B.A.E. were continued so far as funds and the availability of staff 
permitted. Cost studies were undertaken in the more "pathological 
areas" of the period, such as the Red River Valley, the Northern Great 
Plains, and the cattle ranges of the Southwest. Studies were made of 
"land boom" areas and of tenancy. The delicate and difficult task of 
procuring the adoption of more adequate grain, cotton, and wool 
standards involved relations not only with the states and industries at 
home but with trade centers abroad. The use of state and industrial 
personnel as officials of the Department of Agriculture in the enforce- 
ment of standards shows how an extension of government may widen 
the facilitation of the interests and activities of the individual and the 
group. The supply of market-news service was extended through leased 
wires and, later, through radio; shipping point and terminal inspection 
services were increased (financed by the fees charged), as were the 
development and clarification of standards and grades and container 
standards on a voluntary basis. 46 The Foreign Agricultural Service 4 ^ 
inevitably took on added importance with the growing concern for our 
export markets and our situation in international trade generally. The 
mounting interest in cooperative marketing led to expansion of research 
and informational and accounting services in this field, which was later 
to be assigned to the Farm Board and returned to the Department in 
1939 with and as a part of the Farm Credit Administration, the suc- 
cessor to the Board. 

We have noted the initiation of studies of rural life in the Office of 
Markets and Rural Organization and their eventual transfer to the 
Office of Farm Management and the B.A.E. The program of the 
Division of Farm Population and Rural Life was based upon a report 
prepared by a committee of which Thomas N. Carver had been chair- 
man. 48 This report outlined various fields of research in rural sociology, 
which, the committee urged, should become the responsibility of the 

^Wiest, op. cit., pp. 164-85, presents an account of the work of the Bureau in its first 
years. It is worth noting that he emphasizes the operating functions and makes no refer- 
ence to research on more general problems of agricultural policy. The staff, indeed, may 
be said to have been pushed into such studies in part by the logic of the events of the time. 

47 This was detached from the Bureau, made a general -staff agency in the Office of the 
Secretary, and renamed the Office of Foreign Agricultural Relations in 1939. 

^Department of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary, Circular No. 139, June, 1919. 

52 Department of Agriculture 

new Division, and, so far as funds permitted, the program constituted 
the working schedule of the Division for the next fifteen years. Dur- 
ing this period its studies resulted in the publication of twenty-one 
bulletins and ninety-five mimeographed reports. 49 In 1925 the passage 
of the Purnell Act granted an authorization to the state agricultural 
experiment stations for the use of increased grant-in-aid funds for re- 
search in the economic and sociological aspects of agriculture. 50 The 
Division emphasized collaborative research in rural sociology with 
the land-grant institutions and thus stimulated further development of 
the field. A number of bulletins based upon this collaborative research 
were published by the different agricultural experiment stations. 

Organization Within the B.AJE. 

By 1925 the B.A.E. had been organized into the following operating 
divisions: Production (including Farm Management and Costs and 
Crop and Livestock Estimates as subdivisions), Marketing (with sub- 
divisions for Cottons, Fruits, and Vegetables; Livestock, Meats, and 
Wool; Grain, Dairy, and Poultry Products; Cold Storage, Hay, Feed, 
and Seeds; and Warehousing), Agricultural Finance, Statistical and 
Historical Research, Agricultural Cooperation, Farm Population and 
Rural Life, and Land Economics. The general-star! and auxiliary 
services included the offices of the Chief, the two Assistant Chiefs, and 
an Administrative Assistant, a Library, the Bureau's Division of Infor- 
mation, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the Business Manager, and 
the Employment Manager. 51 With the offices of the Chief, the two 
Assistant Chiefs, the Administrative Assistants, and their secretaries 
grouped in a suite of offices, the routing and delegation of business and 
a common attack upon problems of interest to all the operating units 
of the Bureau could be facilitated. 

A weekly seminar composed of the heads and chief technicians of 

49 See Carl C. Taylor, "The Work of the Division of Farm Population and Rural Life," 
Rural Sociology, June, 1939, pp. 221-28. 

^The subject matter of research was widened to include "conducting investigations or 
making experiments bearing directly on the production, manufacture, preparation, use, 
distribution, and marketing of agricultural products and including such scientific re- 
searches as have for their purpose the establishment and maintenance of a permanent 
and efficient agricultural industry, and such economic and sociological investigations as 
have for their purpose the development and improvement of the rural home and rural 
life." 43 Stat. L. 970. For an account of this legislation see True, A History of Agricultural 
Experimentation and Research in the United States, 1607-1925, pp. 275-78. 

61 In the 1938-39 reorganization of the Department this Bureau was stripped of its 
operating services, which went to the new (and in part, old) unit devoted to marketing. 
The Bureau was to be exclusively a research and planning agency, or, as we use the term, 
a part of the general staff. See below, pp. 311-13. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1913-29 53 

the various units, meeting on Monday mornings at nine o'clock with 
the Chief and Assistant Chiefs, served to expedite the planning of 
research and programs, as well as to clear administrative matters com- 
mon to the Bureau as a whole. The new Bureau performed important 
general-staff services for the Secretary and the Department in a period 
of formative development both in the field of agricultural economics as 
a social study 52 and in the evolution of governmental policy on agricul- 
ture. It prepared the materials supplied by the Secretary and the De- 
partment to the National Agricultural Conference called by the 
President that met in January, 1922, 53 and it was largely responsible 
for the Department Yearbooks for 1922-25. 

During these years interest both in study and research and in public 
policy tended to move beyond the earlier more specialized and localized 
problems of farm accounting and of particular commodities and markets. 
Interest developed in questions of the relation of agriculture to the dis- 
tribution of wealth, to consumer purchasing power, to the balancing 
of economic and social forces and in the analysis of historical develop- 
ments reflecting these questions. Contact of officials through their 
representatives with the rising farmer movements in the more dis- 
tressed areas, such as the wheat regions of the Northwest and Northern 
Great Plains, forced some consideration of the more humane aspects 
of what might otherwise have remained statistical tables. The day-to- 
day tasks of the operating units, dealing with market and other services, 
invited the research worker recently recruited from a university to think 
in terms of "things" as well as "words." The opposition to the Bureau, 
which inevitably developed, and the efforts to transfer some of its ac- 
tivities to the Department of Commerce on the ground that the func- 
tion of that Department was to administer all marketing activities, at 

62 Note the development in this same decade of the Social Science Research Council, 
one of the important committees of which was that on Social and Economic Research 
in Agriculture. Its membership included not only those working in this field in uni- 
versities and research institutions but also sometime members of the staff of the B.A.E., such 
as H. R. Tolley, L. C. Gray, C. J. Galpin, H. C. Taylor, and M. L. Wilson. 

53 See Report of the National Agricultural Conference, January 23-27, 1922, 67th Cong., 
2nd sess., House Doc. No. 195. Invitations to attend were sent to three hundred persons 
in the "Farm Group," seventy-five in the "Farm Official Group" (which included seven- 
teen state officials, twenty-five agricultural college officials, six economists, and twenty- 
seven agricultural editors), and sixty-four persons in the "Farm Business Group" (which 
included twenty-one distributors, twelve manufacturers, ten bankers, nine transportation 
officials, and twelve "public men"). Representative Sydney Anderson, Chairman of the 
Joint Commission of Agricultural Inquiry, presided, and H. C. Taylor, Chief of the 
B.A.E., was the executive secretary. The report contains various statements presented 
at the Conference, reports of the committees, and resolutions adopted. It is a type of 
subject-matter document which may most usefully be studied by the political 
scientist interested in the administrative problems of agriculture since 1920. 

54 Department of Agriculture 

once stimulated an esprit de corps and morale among the staff and led 
to a rallying of farm organizations to its defense. 54 

Expansion of Older Activities 

Other substantial developments of the postwar period evolved 
naturally out of activities already noted. Thus, the Forest Service, after 
a struggle in establishing the principles and techniques of forest-reserve 
management and in equipping the widely scattered units under its 
jurisdiction, had pushed forward a research program that led, in the 
act of May 22, 1928, to a general provision for the establishment of 
regional forest experiment stations. Earlier legislation had authorized an 
extensive program of forest-taxation research, and the Clarke-McNary 
Act of June 7, 1924, extended the principle of national-state cooperation 
into the field of forest-fire prevention and suppression and the produc- 
tion of timber "on lands chiefly suitable." An interesting provision of 
the act of May 22, 1928, authorized the study of "the relationship of 
weather conditions to forest fires." The same act increased the funds 
available for research in forest products, appropriated funds for forest- 
range research and for research into the life histories and habits of 
forest animals and birds, and directed the Secretary to undertake 55 

a comprehensive survey of the present and prospective requirements 
for timber and other forest products in the United States, and of 
timber supplies, including a determination of the present and potential 
productivity of forest land therein, and of such other facts as may be 
necessary in the determination of ways and means to balance the 
timber budget of the United States. 

The establishment of the Bureau of Home Economics as an agency 
separate from the Extension Service served to mark the development 
of the research program in foods, textiles, and home equipment, and 
to point to a possible integration of agricultural policy generally with 
the growing interest in, and knowledge of, nutrition problems. 56 Other 

B4 The editorial fear of a "clique of bureaucrats" was not born in 1933. The important 
part played by civil servants drawn from this Bureau in action programs since 1933 
should be noted by the student of public administration, particularly as one compares 
their careers with the careers of those entering public office in the same period from other 
types of activity, such as George Peek, the industrialist; Rexford Tugwell, the teacher; 
or Jerome Frank, the lawyer. Note, for example, the participation by L. C. Gray in the 
land-use program and of Carl Taylor in the Resettlement Administration; also that of 
Messrs. Tolley, Hutson, and Tapp of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration; M. L. 
Wilson; and many others. 

65 45 Stat. L. 702, sec. 9. 

66 It is significant that this relationship has already been a subject of extended investiga- 
tion by committees established by the League of Nations (to whose work in this field 
the work of the Bureau has made substantial and pioneer contributions) and that in some 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1913-29 55 

changes in subject-matter bureaus during the postwar* pre-New Deal 
period included the establishment of a Bureau of Dairy Industry (de- 
veloped out of a former division of the Bureau of Animal Industry), 
the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, a separate Food and Drug Adminis- 
tration (administering the regulatory laws formerly entrusted to the 
Bureau of Chemistry), the Bureau of Agricultural Engineering 
(formerly a part of the Bureau of Public Roads), and the Bureau of 
Entomology and Plant Quarantine. Additional regulatory duties, de- 
signed to facilitate marketing, included the Packers and Stockyards 
Act of 1921, the Grain Futures Act and Naval Stores Act of 1922, the 
Export Plant Certificate Act of 1926, the Caustic Poison Act and Import 
Milk Act of 1927, and the Standard Hamper Act of 1928. 

The Federal Highway Act of 192 1 marked a further evolution of the 
federal-aid highway system and concentrated that aid on "7 per centum 
of the total highway mileage" of a state, fixed general minimum stand- 
ards, and left to the Secretary of Agriculture the further refining and 
defining of the general standards established by the law. A provision 
(Section 21) authorized the expenditure of not more than 2.5 per cent 
of the appropriation to be expended for administration and research and 
investigations. 57 Subsequent legislation authorized expenditures for 
roads and trails in the national forests and other national property, for 
rural post roads, for the reconstruction of roads destroyed in various 
floods ; with the coming of the depression appropriations were increased 
for all road purposes as a means of providing employment and stimulat- 
ing industry. 

Under the act of June 18, 1934, the principle of national grants was 
extended further to farm-to-market roads, rural free delivery mail roads, 
and public-school bus routes. The act of June 16, 1936, also provided for 
grants for the elimination of grade crossings. The steady development 
of the national-state highway program and its extension beyond the 
"7 per centum" established in 1921 forced a more careful appraisal and 
a more careful selection of projects, to avoid a thin dispersal of avail- 
able funds over too great a mileage. Consequently, increased attention 
was given to research on establishing priorities — inevitably to be based 
upon such factors as land use and population trends — to guide the alloca- 
tion of funds to road programs. Hence a service that started in the most 

of the European states this relationship of agricultural policy to nutrition needs of the 
population, and population and income problems generally, is becoming an important 
sector of investigation and even of political and administrative action. 

57 This percentage was reduced to 1.5 per cent in an act of June 18, 1934, for "surveys, 
plans, engineering and economic investigations of projects for future construction." 

56 Department of Agriculture 

modest way in the nineties as a means of discovering better methods of 
building rural roads — roads that then seemed to have been appropriated 
first by the bicyclists and then by the motorists of the big cities — has 
again been found integrally related to the land-use planning interests 
of the Department despite its allocation to a new Federal Works 
Agency. 58 

Staff and Auxiliary Services 

Administrative developments in the Department inaugurated under 
Secretary Houston and his successor, Secretary Meredith, and continued 
under Secretary H. C. Wallace included another grouping of all- 
departmental services under directors. We have noted that the B.A.E. 
included both general-staff and operating functions that were related 
to such economic factors as costs and prices. The new "offices" and 
"services" established in 1923, 1924, and 1925 were more clearly general- 
staff and auxiliary rather than operating units. Thus, in 1923 a Director 
of Regulatory Work was given the function of attempting to bring 
all the regulatory work of the Department into some unified review 
and appraisal, so that the Secretary could turn to this official for advice 
on the Department's entire range of such responsibilities. Evidently the 
establishment of this post was premature, for its holder eventually re- 
signed on the ground that he could find no function to be performed 
in it. 59 In 1923, also, the Office of States Relations was dissolved and in 
its place were created the Extension Service, the Office of Experiment 
Stations — both with directors reporting to the Secretary and both serv- 
ing all the operating agencies of the Department in their relations with 
state extension services and agricultural experiment stations — and the 
new Bureau of Home Economics. 

In 1925 the Department Office of Information was established with a 
director at its head, and to it were assigned the press service, publica- 
tions, and the radio service. In the same year the Offices of Personnel 
Classification, Appointments, Budget and Finance, Disbursements, Ac- 
counting, Purchase and Sales, Traffic, Personnel and Fiscal Inspection, 

58 The immediate and greatest responsibility for planning roads in relation to land-use 
and population requirements has naturally fallen upon the local governments, but there 
has also clearly been a responsibility at Washington to protect national expenditures from 
local abuse. 

59 The later interest in, and attention to, problems of administrative law was character- 
istic of only a few political scientists and teachers of law at that time, and thus the rich 
experience in this field, which the regulatory agencies of the Department could supply and 
which has since constituted a major assignment for members of the general staff, had to 
wait for interpretation. Similarly, interest in consumer economics, which has also found 
the work of the regulatory agencies of great importance, has since grown. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1913-29 57 

and Chief Clerk were combined into the new Office of Personnel and 
Business Administration. 60 

Before these reorganizations were effected Secretary H. C. Wallace 
died; they were completed during the secretaryships of his immediate 
successors, ex-Governor Gore of West Virginia and William M. Jardine, 
who came to his post from the presidency of the Kansas State Agricul- 
tural College in 1925. The only important change in the organization 
of the general-staff and auxiliary services of the Department down to 
the creation of the Office of Under Secretary in 1934 was in 1933, when 
the Office of Personnel and Business Administration was divided into 
the Office of Personnel, the Office of Budget and Finance, and a Division 
of Operations. In 1936 a Director of Research was appointed to advise 
the Secretary on the planning, development, and coordination of the 
research program of the Department; in 1937 the Office of Land Use 
Coordination was established as a part of the Secretary's Office. The 
reorganization of 1938-39 61 thus brought to fruition a period of adjust- 
ment of organization and functions begun by Secretary Houston in 
which each succeeding Secretary participated actively, whatever his 
party affiliations or political views. 

Political Movements and Agricultural Programs 

We have sufficiently illustrated the development in the postwar period 
of the older activities, as well as the arrival of a newer emphasis on 
general economic questions directly affecting agriculture and the result- 
ing changes in organization. Many have generalized and suggested 
that the work of the Department was first centered on increased produc- 
tion, then upon marketing, and later on organized effort to affect the 
distribution of income more favorably to farmers. We have seen, how- 
ever, that interest in research, in the facilitation of production and dis- 
tribution, and in the supplying of information has been continuous 
throughout the life of the Department. Furthermore, interest in general 
economic questions runs back through the statistical and crop-reporting 
work to the early activities located in the Patent Office. We can note, 
too, that the institution of a seemingly unimportant function of fact- 
collection may lead to the adoption of regulatory legislation when what 

60 The creation of the Office of Personnel and Business Administration followed upon 
the response of the Department, somewhat earlier, to the Budget and Accounting Act of 
1 92 1 and the Reclassification Act of 1922, both of which placed upon the operating 
departments responsibility for more careful treatment of problems of personnel and 
finance. We discuss this in more detail in Part III. 

61 See below, pp. 456 ff. 

58 Department of Agriculture 

the facts reveal is assimilated by the potential public affected. Finally, 
the forces present in postwar American and world political economy 
brought a re-emphasis to the work of the Department and led to the 
important expansion and change associated with the Farm Board in 
1929 and later with the New Deal program. 

In his life of President Coolidge, 62 William Allen White records his 
estimate of the period : 

The farmer's net income had begun to drop — actually and relatively. 
There our distributive system clogged. The farmer's income was not 
adequate to keep agriculture from declining relatively to manufactur- 
ing, mining, trade and finance. The bright and alert young men of the 
farms were drawn off to the city for better wages and better opportuni- 
ties. Our high tariff policy tended to prevent the export trade upon 
which agriculture depended largely for its income. After the middle 
of 1924, we tried to make our foreign loan policy offset the tariff. . . . 
Moreover the restriction of immigration which the war brought, which 
the immigration restriction laws produced, created a labor shortage, 
and a rise in wages in the city. So that industries which once drew labor 
needed for expansion from Europe began to draw labor in from the 
farms. Up went labor costs to the employing farmers. Railroad rates in- 
creased in 1920 and remained for the decade of the twenties well above 
the levels of the pre-war days. Agriculture also was burdened with 
rising taxes as counties and road districts and States borrowed to build 
roads and for other purposes. All this prodigality handicapped the 
American farmer — Coolidge's own people. The horse and mule were 
displaced by the automobile and the automotive truck. In pre-war 
days cities bought from the farms hay, oats and corn to feed the mules 
and horses, and during the twenties the farms were buying automobiles 
and trucks from the cities and gasoline to feed them. Agriculture, un- 
like corporate industry, had built up a great fabric of mortgage debt 
as land speculation, on credit, ran to extremes in 1916-20. 

We may usefully turn to an observer and analyst who questions the 
assumptions upon which much of the farm pressure group argument 
was based to see that other schools of thought held that governmental 
action, and that by the national government, was required. We refer 
to the views of Joseph Davis, Director of the Food Research Institute 
of Stanford University, who was chief economist to the Federal Farm 
Board. 63 In his discussion of the agricultural problem in the United 

62 A Puritan in Babylon (New York: Macmillan Company, 1938), pp. 341-46. We 
refer to several pages in which the author discusses at length the relation of agriculture to 
American economy generally in the period and Coolidge's attitudes towards its problems. 

""Other appraisals of the "farm problem" of the postwar period which we have found 
most helpful are John D. Black, Agricultural Reform in the United States (1929) and 
"National Agricultural Policy," American Economic Review, Supplement, March, 1926, 
pp. 134-55; m the same Supplement note the paper by Carl C. Taylor, "Our Rural Popula- 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 79/3-29 59 

States are several comments that present useful comparisons with Wil- 
liam Allen White's assumptions: 64 

. . . reduced food consumption per capita, changes in the diet, substitu- 
tion of the automobile for the horse, increased efficiency, even the return 
of peace, are in no sense to be deplored; on the contrary, they represent 
wholesome economic changes. In so far as they reduce the land, cap- 
ital, and labor requirement in American agriculture, they inevitably 
involve a decrease in the relative importance of agriculture in the na- 
tional economy. In itself this is no evil, and it portends no evil 
destiny; but it does mean that agriculture has latterly faced a trying 
problem of readjustment, the more serious because of synchronous re- 
ductions in foreign and domestic demand in the postwar period. 

"The downward trend of exports and the rise of imports of agricultural 
products since 1900" — interrupted temporarily by the war — is a natural 
and by no means unwholesome consequence of such developments at 
home and the rise of newer agricultural areas abroad. . . . 

The competition of industry for labor and restriction of immigration 
do not "make farming more costly and harder," but make for increased 
use of machinery that reduces both cost and toil. ... In respect to the 
tax burden on farmers, no consideration is given to the degree to which 
higher taxes go for improvements, such as better roads, that reduce 
farm costs, or mean a higher standard of living, such as better roads 
and schools; or to the advantage the farmer has reaped in paying but a 
small proportion of the taxes assessed directly for war purposes (e.g., 
federal income and excess profits taxes). . . . 

While Mr. Davis was opposed to most of the proposals advanced by 
the various pressure groups, he recorded his own suggestions for positive 
intervention by the national government: 65 

tion Debacle," pp. 156-66, and discussion of the two papers on pp. 167-70; W. E. Dodd, 
"Shall Our Farmers Become Peasants?", The Century Magazine, CXVI (1928), 30-44; 
F. L. Paxson, "The Agricultural Surplus: A Problem in History," Agricultural History, 
April, 1932, pp. 51-68; Joseph Schafer, "Some Enduring Factors in Rural Polity," ibid., 
October, 1932, pp. 161 ff.; L. B. Schmidt, "The Agricultural Revolution in the Prairies 
and the Great Plains of the United States," ibid., October, 1934, pp. 169-95. The volume 
by Mr. Black includes an extended discussion of the problems of the surpluses, of price 
raising by government action, and — prophetic term — of "Adjustment — Individual and 
Cooperative." Among the reform proposals considered are those relating to production, 
land utilization, marketing, transportation, immigration and farm labor, credit, and 
"public enterprise and taxation." 

u On Agricultural Policy 1926-1938 (Stanford University: Food Research Institute, 
1939), PP. 69, 70, 72. 

m lbid., pp. 87 and 88. Note particularly a paper, "America's Agricultural Position and 
Policy," presented at Henry A. Wallace's Round Table at Williamstown on August 11, 
1927, and the papers in the section labeled "Under the Farm Board." Mr. Davis appends 
a note to this paper in which he states that "later data, revisions of official indexes, and 
experience in the Farm Board led the author to modify some of the positions taken in 
this paper." It illustrates, however, the viewpoint, presented in 1927 at an important 
round-table discussion, of one of the leading agricultural economists. 

60 Department of Agriculture 

A first step in dealing with the problem is to spread the true knowledge 
of it. . . . The Department of Agriculture is doing valuable work on 
the economic aspects of agriculture, but its publications still fall short 
of revealing and interpreting the full nature of the status quo and 
the course of current developments, especially in individual commodi- 
ties and particular regions. . . . 

The next step in our agricultural policy, I believe, should be to set 
up an agency competent to take steps, and charged with gradually 
working out, not in the closet but in practice, a solution that defies 
all efforts to reach it in advance of experience. 

A federal farm board, if wisely chosen and properly constituted, might 
well perform such a service, provided it were given adequate powers 
and not saddled with impossible duties. It should not be expected to 
administer a fully developed plan laid down by Congress, especially 
one of the proportions proposed in recent bills, but rather, under cer- 
tain broad powers, to take definite action along several lines, and to 
supplement the action by bringing forward, from time to time, pro- 
posals for action or legislation in line with a maturing policy that 
would be in the interest not only of farmers but of the nation as a 

After the adoption of the Farm Board program by Congress at the 
suggestion of President Hoover in 1929, Mr. Davis, before he had be- 
come an official of the Board, commented as follows: 66 

The virtue of the measure is that it seeks to increase farmers' incomes, 
not at the expense of other classes, but by improvements in the market- 
ing process, along with which must almost necessarily be developed, as 
a condition for success, some control of output. . . . 

Investigation and advice as to overproduction is good so far as it goes, 
but much more is involved than appears on first glance. Effective means 
for regulation of acreage and breeding are exceedingly difficult to de- 
vise and apply, without resorting to a degree of government interfer- 
ence with individual freedom that would certainly be hostile to the 
traditional spirit of the farmer. Yet overproduction in the economic 
sense — production in such quantity as to be unremunerative to pro- 
ducers — is all too common, in individual products; and there is a 
strong tendency, under our changing methods of farming, toward 
this sort of overproduction of farm products in general. . . . 

The tariff in its bearing on agriculture needs to be studied carefully 
and realistically. Broadly speaking, tariff benefits are restricted to 
limited groups, and the burdens of a protective tariff so widely dif- 
fused that they are not appreciated at their true value. So far as 
farmers in particular are concerned, I believe that they stand not to 

™lbid., pp. 133-35 (Address to a section of the California Bankers' Association, June 
22, 1929). 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1913-29 61 

gain but to lose more or less heavily by striving for their share of tariff 
protection. A recent article by an able farm editor, Henry A. Wallace 
of Wallaces' Farmer, son of the late Secretary of Agriculture, elabo- 
rates this view. I am sure that farmers labor under the delusion that 
they can profit from our protective policy. 

The talk of farm leaders, however, and of most of their advisers 
throughout the decade was in terms of tariffs and of measures which 
would "make the tariff effective" for farm products. Present and ac- 
tive in the movement for farm relief were industrialists and their staff 
men who had been reared in the assumption that state intervention 
through tariffs was a basic and legitimate and not-to-be-questioned 
axiom of the American system. The President and Congress that es- 
tablished the Farm Board were also responsible for the Smoot-Hawley 
tariff, which helped to precipitate a new wave of retaliatory tariff wars 
and economic nationalism, the end of which has not yet come into sight. 
The solid basis, too, of farm-relief support was in the agricultural sec- 
tions of the Middle West, with its allies in the dairying section of the 
East; in both sections protectionism and the Republican party were 
strong. The relatively free-trade South was changing its outlook with 
the development of industry and the rise of a view that it had too long 
been a colony for exploitation by northeastern finance and industry; 
when its major commodities suffered severe price declines, farm pres- 
sure groups in other areas sought allies among the growers of cotton, 
tobacco, peanuts, and rice. 

Thus, we find that individuals and groups differing in their diagnoses 
of what was wrong with agriculture in the postwar period, proposing 
different remedies, and coming from different traditions in different re- 
gions — all hoped to bring about some kind of positive governmental 
action about agriculture. 

What policies for dealing with the economic aspects of agriculture 
were considered by these various groups in the early years of the decade ? 
The policy apparently making least demand for an extension of govern- 
ment activity was that of supplying the farmer with better information 
about production and markets so that he might adjust his operations 
more effectively to those conditions affecting the profitableness of his 
farm. Closely allied was the policy of improving marketing services — 
not only improving the supply of information about prices but also 
offering the facilities of governmental officials in inspection and grading 
and in the organization of cooperative and other marketing organiza- 
tions. There was the policy, also, of governmental assistance both in 

62 Department of Agriculture 

organizing producers' cooperatives and in supplying them with technical 
and financial aid. Other proposals were made for the financing of 
surpluses so that they might be held until the market might absorb 
them; thus, through revolving funds public support would be placed 
at the disposal of producers. 

Another form of public intervention advocated was that of guarantee- 
ing a price for farm commodities sold for domestic use and dumping 
the surplus in the world markets. The cost of such a program would 
be borne by various taxing devices as proposed in the plans urged upon 
the nation; the price would be fixed at a point resulting in the parity 
with the prices of other commodities that allegedly had been attained 
in a prewar period. Some individuals recognized that these proposals 
would necessarily lead to demands for restrictions on production, but 
in general this implication was not explored or debated until the experi- 
ence of the Farm Board revealed the urgency of the question. 

Land-Use Problems 

In addition to these types of action under consideration, other de- 
velopments were taking place in agriculture during the postwar period. 67 
In various agencies, notably the Forest Service, the B.A.E., the Bureau 
of Soils, in some of the land-grant institutions, and here and there among 
persons not connected directly with agricultural administration but con- 
cerned with regional planning, interest was increasing in land- 
utilization studies, in problems of soil erosion, and in an ecological ap- 
proach to natural resources generally. 68 After two centuries of emphasis 
on disposal and settlement and following the questionings by isolated 
individuals in the past of the wisdom of our policies, we were, through 
these pioneers in the study of land-use problems, at last beginning to 
see the point of F. J. Turner's prophecies about the passing of the 
frontier. The conservation movement had laid a basis for action in the 
development of ideas of forest management and the growth of public 
forests; soil surveys were being extended slowly by the joint adminis- 
tration of the United States and the states. Here was another, but less- 
dramatic and less-understood, approach to agricultural problems. This 
approach, too, involved governmental action, and when it pointed to the 
regulation of land use by the private owner as well as improvement 

67 See Alice Christensen's study for an account of the struggles over farm -relief legisla- 
tion in the period. A most valuable appraisal of American agricultural policy during the 
twenties will be found in a book by Persia Crawford Campbell, an economist trained in 
Sydney, Australia, and the University of London, American Agricultural Policy (1933). 

68 See below, pp. 132-41 ff. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 19/3-29 63 

in the management of the public domain, 69 it challenged ancient con- 
ceptions and practices as much as would other forms of restriction that 
might be undertaken in the interest of price and markets. The two 
currents of influence were to come together in later years; but during 
the twenties the farm-relief movement drew rather on the ideology and 
assumptions of industrial experience, with its emphasis on tariffs, in the 
search for some device that would give to agriculture, sending a surplus 
into world markets, an equivalent to the protection given to industrial 
producers by tariffs. A direct attack upon this problem through an 
effort to eliminate special advantages, such as tariffs, and to combat 
"sticky prices," was not undertaken. 

68 The Department's desire to take positive action was reflected in the effort to have 
transferred to it the Reclamation Service and the Land Office from the Department of 
the Interior. See the testimony of Secretary Henry C. Wallace before the Joint Committee 
on Reorganization of the Administrative Branch of the Government, Hearings on S. J. 
Res. 282 (67th Cong.), 68th Cong., ist sess., especially pp. 277-79. 

Chapter 4 



The program of farm relief finally adopted in 1929 1 resulted in 
the establishment of a Federal Farm Board with authority to 
create commodity stabilization corporations and to recognize and 
collaborate with farmers' cooperative associations. The Board consisted 
of nine members, including the Secretary of Agriculture. It was author- 
ized to make loans from a revolving fund of $500,000,000 to cooperative 
associations and to the stabilization corporations. The Division of Co- 
operation in the B.A.E. was transferred to the new Board and the 
Board was charged with investigations and the formulation of advice 
on the problem of overproduction and the possibility of diversification. 2 
The Board was thus an additional organ of agricultural policy-making 
for the Hoover Administration, linked to the Department through the 
Secretary of Agriculture as well as through the personnel recruited from 
the Department. 

Roots of the AAA. 

We have seen that thoughtful observers were agreed that efforts to 
adjust agricultural to general economic conditions through marketing 
devices would be inadequate without controls on production. When 
the Farm Board program, therefore, proved inadequate in the con- 
tinued depression, when an appeal by the Board and Secretary Hyde 
for voluntary crop reduction was without result, then, since public inter- 
vention had been obtained for other corporate interests through tariffs 
and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a further development 
of agricultural policy was adopted in the Agricultural Adjustment Act 
of 1933. Here again there was no sharp break with movements and 
ideas that had been developing throughout the postwar period. Statis- 

1 The Agricultural Marketing Act of June 15, 1929. 

2 The Act is summarized by Davis op. at., pp. 125-36. He remarks: "The virtue of the 
measure is that it seeks to increase farmers' incomes, not at the expense of other classes, 
but by improvements in the marketing process, along with which must almost necessarily 
be developed, as a condition for success, some control of output. I believe the principle is 
sound, however imperfect the means may prove to be. I am hopeful that good will come 
out of it, but I feel that no such measure can fully meet the real requirements of our 
agricultural situation, to say nothing of farmers' hopes." 


Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1929-39 65 

tical measurements of prices and costs "beyond the fences" had been 
developed early in the twenties by the B.A.E.; 3 individual officials had 
been called upon freely by congressmen for assistance in the drafting 
of legislation, despite the opposition to various farm-relief measures by 
the Secretaries and Presidents of the time; and some officials themselves 
had worked out proposals. W. J. Spillman, who had had a long career 
first in the Bureau of Plant Industry and then, after a break with Secre- 
tary Houston, in the B.A.E., published his Balancing the Farm Output 
in 1927. 4 

M. L. Wilson, one-time division chief in the B.A.E., from his first- 
hand knowledge of the Northern Great Plains as farmer, county agent, 
and teacher at the Montana State Agricultural College, had become 
familiar with the wheat problem there (perhaps the earliest and most 
critical of the agricultural problems of postwar times) . He was influen- 
tial in the drafting of the 1933 Act and he was also responsible for 
administering, in its first year, the Wheat Section of the A.A.A., 
through the administrative policies of which he was to exert a con- 
tinuing influence after his translation to other tasks. 5 Chester Davis, 
also familiar with the Northern Plains, at one time Commissioner of 
Agriculture in Montana, active in the farm-relief pressure organizations, 
appeared also in the A.A.A., as did Howard Tolley, who entered the 
civil service of the Department in prewar days and later was a member 
of the staff of the B.A.E. It may be added that Frederick Lee, Senate 
Counsel during the period of farm-relief legislation and thus active, 
by virtue of his office, in the drafting of the innumerable measures and 
amendments, was appointed a special and private counsel by George 
Peek when the latter became, by choice of President Roosevelt, the Ad- 
ministrator of the A.A.A. 6 Charles J. Brand, who had been the first chief 
of the Bureau of Markets established under Secretary Houston, became 
Coadministrator of the A.A.A. 7 

8 The nature of these indices, as well as their interpretation, continues to be a disputed 
matter not only among agricultural economists but also among the various statisticians 
and economists in other departments of government, some of whom feel that they are 
weighted in favor of the farmer through the items included and the period selected to 
represent "parity" and "equality" and "balance." This is, of course, a question of great 
importance to the student of administration as political systems become more "corporate" 
and "interventionist." 

4 See especially chap, vii, "The Limited Debenture Plan." 

5 He became Assistant Secretary in 1935 and Under Secretary in December, 1936. 

6 Peek (with Crowther), Why Quit Our Own?, pp. 1 09-11. 

7 Note the interesting discussion of the relation of agricultural economics to practical 
affairs presented at the annual meeting of the American Farm Economic Association in 
December, 1938, and published in the Journal of Farm Economics, February, 1939, pp. 
1-30. Included in this discussion are papers by Dean Carl E. Ladd, of the New York State 

66 Department of Agriculture 

Activities Appraised 

Before this discussion of the evolution of the Department of Agricul- 
ture is completed with a brief account of developments during the New 
Deal period, attention should be called to the distinction frequently 
made between the "old" Department and the "new" — the line of de- 
marcation being drawn through the year 1933. The same assumption 
underlies the reference sometimes made by critics of the Department 
to the "legitimate" functions of the Department — that is, only those 
that it is presumed to have had before 1933 — in contrast with "action" 
programs of presumed later origin. Those who speak of legitimate 
functions refer generally to research activities, which would benefit 
farmers after interpretation and transmission through the state experi- 
ment stations and the cooperative extension service county agents and 
home-demonstration agents. The fact that even the supply of informa- 
tion based on research thus undertaken through public authority and 
with the support of public funds is a deliberate intervention by the 
public into the life of individuals is as much overlooked as it is im- 

But a more serious omission of those who speak of legitimate func- 
tions is the group of activities that we have named "the facilitation of 
production and marketing." This is a most important point for the 
student of administration. (Through assistance in the determination of 
standards and grades that delineate identity and quality and through 
the policing of those standards and grades, including the supply of im- 
partial inspectional services to buyer and seller, a system has developed 
in which "coercion" and "voluntary acceptance" are mingled. This 

College of Agriculture, Cornell University ("Contributions of Agricultural Economics 
to Farming"), Howard R. Tolley, Chief of the B.A.E. ("Contributions of Agricultural 
Economics to the General Welfare"), and the comments on both papers by H. C. M. Case 
of the University of Illinois and John D. Black of Harvard University. The latter com- 
mented on the parts played in the development of recent agricultural policy by men of 
affairs and agricultural economists (p. 26). "A little contemplation will convince anyone 
that, in the great surge toward collective action in the agricultural economy of this and 
other nations since the World War, the economists generally have been considerably 
behind the lines of battle — many of them engaged in rear-guard fighting. Not only the 
drive toward action but also the major part of the thinking about effective lines of action 
has come from outside the strictly professional ranks — from men like the two Wallaces, 
George Peek, Chester Davis, Governor Lowden, Alexander Legge, Edward O'Neal, even 
Rexford Tugwell if you like. This is in spite of the fact that in this particular case an 
unusual amount of aid has been rendered by several professional agricultural economists — 
Dr. H. C. Taylor in the days when he served with the elder Wallace, M. L. Wilson, H. R. 
Tolley, and L. C. Gray; in the field of agricultural credit, W. I. Myers and F. F. Hill. 
'Cock-eyed' and 'screwy' though we economists may dub many of the ideas of some of 
these men, they have nevertheless set the stage and written many of the parts in the 
drama of agriculture in the last sixteen years." 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1929-39 67 

system, furthermore, is of great importance to producer, processor, dis- 
tributor, and consumer. As previously stated, such services actually 
widen economic opportunities and positively add to the wealth and 
standard of living of the community; that is, of course, provided the 
administration is marked by absolute integrity, adequate technical train- 
ing and standards, and the use of persons of knowledge and honesty 
in such a way as cumulatively to build up their experience. Here again 
it may be stressed that the use either of research and information or of 
such services to marketing — when made available to those engaged in 
economic activity under a price system — will tend to coerce and regi- 
ment both the initial user and all others participating in the price system. 
The farmer will be forced either to adopt the farm practices — including 
selection of seeds, treatment of soil, implements, and other devices that 
the more enterprising and experimental select — or to go under from 
the effect of a lower-cost competitor if the newly introduced practice 
represents a means of producing more or better commodities at a 
smaller cost. 

Departmental Relationships 

The marketing activities related the Department to state departments 
of marketing and of health, as well as to experiment stations and ex- 
tension services — a fact frequently overlooked. The fact, too, that there 
is sometimes little working relationship between state land-grant insti- 
tutions and state administrative departments is important. Further- 
more, the extensive management duties of the Department relating to 
national forests and its authority over other aspects of forestry and of 
public roads gave it important responsibility for an element in state and 
local governmental services and policy that was to become increasingly 
significant. Here also the "legitimate" functions extended beyond re- 
search and were not channeled through the "old" system of grants 
administered by the land-grant institutions. Finally, the development of 
research into problems of income, cost, and price, of the rural community 
generally, and of population trends, and then the emergence of farm- 
relief plans from various organizations brought the Department — and 
even more strikingly the Federal Farm Board — into continuous rela- 
tions with various organized groups of producers, processors, and dis- 
tributors. The Department's growing responsibilities in the administra- 
tion of regulatory statutes had a similar effect. 

The tendency of the traditional political government to deal more 
and more with organized groups, which has become world-wide, raises 

68 Department of Agriculture 

the question of the status of consumers in such a system. Consumers, 
as such, are rarely organized. It may be argued, however, that govern- 
ment in general may be said to be an instrument through which the 
consumer seeks representation. This argument, in fact, raises a ques- 
tion for the political philosophers: should a department serve an "in- 
terest" or "the public"? The difficulty of answering the question is 
reflected in the practical everyday problem facing the officials in such 
a department, since every exercise of discretionary power is examined 
sharply by the agents of a special interest. Certainly the farm organiza- 
tions have claimed the sponsorship for the development, as well as for 
the establishment, of the Department. At the same time, its expansion 
has been justified on the ground of a general public interest in the 
prevention, for example, of a future food or timber famine. We have 
noted that the Department has been given the responsibility for enforc- 
ing some statutes that, on superficial view and in practical application, 
have required a protection of the consumer against the farmer-producer 
and against the processor and distributor of farm products. Again, what 
really is the "agricultural interest" ? It is not one but a bundle of interests, 
of diverse processes and organizations, of short-time and long-time in- 
terest conflicts, of regional and commodity divergences. Even in the 
adoption of farm legislation in 1862, Mr. Ross points out, "the farmer 
was land conscious but not class conscious . . . the reformers had no 
inclusive purpose but constituted more or less united and effective 
pressure groups of agitators for special objectives rather than a compact 
farm bloc committed to the security of the occupation as a whole." He 
concludes, "The present necessity for an agricultural new deal, of 
some sort and degree, is due largely to the incompleteness and ineffec- 
tiveness of that of the Civil War." 8 

Emerging Issues 

Since 1932 public attention has been centered upon the New Deal 
program as marking a sharp reversal in trends in governmental policy; 
nevertheless, the more we study the evolution of agricultural policies 
the more we are impressed with their continuity over an extended period, 
notwithstanding changes in party control of government. Changes 
occur, but the new policy will be found to have roots in some undramatic 
research, fact-collecting, information-providing, or similar "noncoercive" 
activity that actually plays its eventual part in coercion because the new 
information becomes a weapon in the struggles of pressure groups. 

8 "The Civil War Agricultural New Deal," Social Forces, October, 1936, p. 104. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 7929-59 69 

Civil servants assigned to the task of analysis come upon situations in 
which a public interest is discovered because hitherto it had been no 
one's business to study them. In this evolutionary process the functions 
of government are changed, but it is rarely foreseen that future adjust- 
ments will be required between units of government. Thus, the De- 
partment's earlier functions had brought it into closest relations with 
state experiment stations, later, with state extension services as well, 
and through both with state colleges of agriculture. The development 
of the forestry program related the Department to state conservation 
or forestry departments; the marketing services, to state market depart- 
ments; the food and drug regulatory work, to state departments of 
health or of markets. The latter two services, also, had made the De- 
partment's work of importance to the consumer. 

The later trends, noted above, based upon a concern for farmers' 
incomes, hardly fitted into the older scheme of national-state relations. 
The relationships of the Farm Board were illustrative of the corporate 
state into which all the states of the world were, in some degree, pass- 
ing, for it dealt with cooperative associations and commodity stabiliza- 
tion corporations. The areal expression of these groups was not by 
states but by regions determined by soil and climate: the Cotton Belt, 
the Corn Belt, and the citrus, dairying, wheat, tobacco, and cattle regions. 
Furthermore, this new orientation toward questions of parity income 
would bring the corporate interest of farmers, processors, distributors, 
exporters, and retailers into direct conflict with consumers and with 
other groups of producers. Finally, the impact of any policies affecting 
farm income and especially land use upon township, county, and state 
government would be of great force. 

We have noted the recognition by a few pioneers of the need for a 
comprehensive land policy which would, in an earlier day, have con- 
trolled disposal and settlement in terms of some standard based upon 
research and investigation — an ideal envisaged by John Quincy Adams, 
by Abram Hewitt, and by Major John Powell. Land-use functions, 
however, were scattered among several departments; no staff agencies 
had been developed by President or Congress to formulate a considered 
and unified program. In the states and local units little attention had 
been given to these matters, although there had been isolated and par- 
tial accomplishments, such as the establishment of the Adirondack and 
Catskill reserves in New York State and, late in the twenties, the county 
zoning program in Wisconsin. 

The importance of the land-use approach is that it would come at 

70 Department of Agriculture 

the agricultural problem from a public viewpoint; that is, from one that 
of necessity would reflect basic and interdependent factors of settlement: 
available tax base for necessary public services, relation of best use to 
available markets, and the integration of local, state, and national services 
and powers. We need not emphasize, however, how alien such an at- 
titude has been to the American tradition of land speculation and how 
greatly such a program is dependent upon a well-educated, experienced, 
and honest personnel in local, state, and national governments. Such an 
attitude implies a theory of federalism that emphasizes coordinated and 
integrated action instead of antagonism. While this approach has been 
envisaged by a few pioneers in research in public law and political 
science, in general the basic groundwork in the more important subject- 
matter fields, such as agriculture and public welfare, had yet to be blue- 
printed by the time of the depression. 

The depression was to force attention to questions of nutrition (and 
consumer needs generally) and to the great numbers of rural people 
who were in particularly severe distress. Neither of these questions had 
received the attention that had been given to problems of production. 
Work had been done in both fields in the B.A.E., which had given 
some attention to problems of tenancy, for example, and in the Bureau 
of Home Economics (as well as the Food and Drug Administration), 
where studies of nutrition, diet, preparation of foods, textiles, and other 
questions were undertaken. But, in general, here, as in land use, there 
was no conscious integration of attack and policy formulation affecting 
all the departmental agencies concerned, much less one reaching out 
to related functions in other departments. 

The American tradition of the farmer as an owner-occupier, and of 
the laborer and tenant as a person on his way to the higher status, was 
blended with the general rural distrust of trade unions and social 
legislation. 9 A few discerning observers had noted that problems of 
labor and of tenancy would arise at the close of the period when en- 
hanced farm real-estate values might be concealing actual losses in 
agricultural industry. Yet the traditional assumptions and enthusiasms 

9 1 recall conferring with officials of farm organizations at Albany, New York, in the 
spring of 191 9 on questions of administrative reorganization proposed by the New York 
State Reconstruction Commission, for which I was working, and about Governor A. E. 
Smith's program generally. They wanted an exception to the general program in favor of 
the Department of Farms and Markets in order to have it under the control of the legisla- 
ture directly through the naming of the heads by that body, since up-state rural New York 
controlled the legislature through the Republican organization and the constitutional 
gerrymandering of the legislature; they also opposed the Governor's health insurance and 
other social legislation, not in principle, but because, as they frankly stated, it would in- 
crease their labor costs (although here again agriculture was excepted from the applica- 
tion of the proposals) by the competition of city employment. J.M.G. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 7929-39 71 

were too strongly fixed in the vested interests of trading centers and 
railroads, as well as in the minds of the American people, to permit 
much questioning. The consumer had made only the most tentative 
beginnings in the use of instruments of government as a means of pro- 
tection from coercion by the market system; yet at certain points, such 
as in the regulation of milk supply, the consumer was already in conflict 
with the farmer. The idea of attacking problems of agriculture by 
moving positively toward a higher standard of health through more 
adequate nutrition and the use of protective foods had not yet been 
envisaged as a possible major theme of the Department or of any 
governmental agency. 

We conclude that the functions of the pre-New Deal Department 
were wider in scope than those generally envisaged as "legitimate" by 
critics of later agricultural policies and that they related the Department 
to state agencies and farmer groups not exclusively through the medium 
of the land-grant institutions. Real problems of integrating the dif- 
ferent levels of government existed but, as yet, they were largely un- 
recognized because they were not present in dramatic form. Nor is it 
true that "action" was not yet a part of the Department's responsibili- 
ties and functions: "action" was achieved either indirectly through the 
market and price system or, as in forestry, through the management of 
public lands. The contribution of the Bureau of Public Roads to the 
automobile industry, through the development of a highway system of 
good standards by its administration of the grants to the states, was also 
undoubtedly great. 

The relation of activities in the Department and in government 
generally to land utilization, to farm labor, and to the consumer had 
not, however, been brought to a focus. Nor was there as yet any 
adequate refocusing of research and program-making upon the inter- 
dependent problems and potential resources of ecological regions. The 
unimaginative and uninspired conception of federalism continued to 
prevail almost unquestioned as a system in which the national and state 
governments, pulling and hauling against one another, were the 
final definitive instruments through which the American people might 
undertake their tasks of public housekeeping. John D. Black, in his dis- 
cussion of the role of agricultural economics — and agricultural econo- 
mists — to which we have already referred, brings out clearly the point of 
view of those who believe that research and policy must move into a 
wider setting and relationship if agricultural problems are to be ap- 
proached effectively. Note his comments on Dean Ladd's paper: 10 

™ Agricultural Reform in the United States (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1929), pp. 26-28. 

72 Department of Agriculture 

Dean Ladd writes in his paper: "The problems of production have 
been so well solved that great apparent surpluses of farm products 

have come into existence "I would prefer to say that if the problems 

of agricultural production had been solved as economic problems — 
and they are surely not solved until they are solved economically as 
well as technologically— these great surpluses would not have come 
into existence. . . . The truth of the matter is that we still know rela- 
tively little, in a scientific sense, about agricultural production dynam- 
ics and production adjustments; and concerning the whole theory 
of collective behavior of farmers as producers. ... In the period from 
1922 to 1928, while the outlook program of the Department of Agri- 
culture was evolving, a program was envisaged of classifying the 
agriculture of the nation into areas and then proceeding to a produc- 
tion adjustment analysis for each area, with a local organization in 
each to help make the analyses and then to carry out the adjustment 
recommendations. One had some reason in those days to think that 
a body of production economics suited to the larger national econ- 
omy was in the process of making. We did get the type-of-farming 
area classification made, but there the program stalled. . . . Market 
planning, as Mr. Tolley explained, is also a part of the work of the 
new B.A.E. I could agree with Dean Ladd that we have more to do 
here than in the field of production — that is, we are farther in the rear. 
Contributions to collective action in commodity distribution have been 
made principally along two lines, first the publicly provided market- 
ing aids and services — grading and standardization, price-quoting, 
market news, etc.; and, second, cooperative marketing. But market 
planning must come to mean something much more than this: it 
must include national plans for the utilization and distribution of 
whole crops, and local plans for economical handling and forwarding 
of whole products. . . . "The problems of distribution are so baffling," 
says Dean Ladd, "that thousands of people are ill-fed and ill-clothed." 
Should he not have said, "millions" — perhaps forty millions ? But mere 
distribution, in the sense of commodity distribution in which Dean 
Ladd uses the term, will not go very far toward providing these with 
food and clothing. We shall need to do something about our economic 
system as a whole so that it gives increasing efficiency of production a 
chance to keep on increasing, and the products of it to pass freely into 
consumption. The economists of this day who would serve agriculture 
can serve it best in many cases by helping to reconstruct the whole 
economic system in which it is enmeshed; and all good agricultural 
economists must take some hand in this. 


Our account of the impact of the New Deal upon the Department's 
administration is necessarily limited : since we have not yet the perspec- 
tive that can only result after the lapse of time, it is not easy to detect 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1929-39 73 

what has been most significant. We recognize the fact (ignored by 
partisans of every faction) that when an opposition party comes into 
power some activities will be retained, others, discarded. The Depart- 
ment, however, has generally reflected continuity in policy and function 
regardless of changes in party controls. Moreover, we believe that con- 
tinuity will remain, since much of the Department's New Deal program 
was anticipated in earlier research or activity and was rooted in the 
pressure of important interests. In view of the existence of so many lines 
of research and so many points at which agricultural problems have 
been receiving some type of study and treatment, changes will probably 
come in shifts of emphasis rather than in sharp breaks. 

Mention has been made of assumptions widely held among agricul- 
tural administrators that played an important part in the past determi- 
nation of policies. Among them were the assumptions that agriculture 
was the basic activity of man; that there were certain inherent and 
superior values in rural life; that these values were best realized in the 
traditional American owner-occupier farmer type of society and econ- 
omy. Important assumptions coming to the fore in the twenties were 
deductions based in part upon these tenets and in part upon observation 
of general tendencies in American life, in world affairs, and in eco- 
nomic theory. There was, for example, the view that unless the purchas- 
ing power of the farmer could be raised through higher prices for farm 
commodities, commerce, trade, and banking would suffer and would, 
indeed, collapse. 11 There was, too, the complementary view that the 
individual farmer could not meet the pressure and coercion of the market 
as the manufacturer could, by closing down and producing less, by 
laying off men and stopping the buying of materials, thus reduc- 
ing his expenses and maintaining his prices by limiting his product 
to what the market could absorb. 12 

The farmer is the "servant of the seasons," of his ecological setting, 
of his specialized knowledge, of his status as capitalist with investment 
in land, buildings, and equipment, of the prices he must pay to protect 
industry and transport. To obtain a bargaining position equivalent to 
other groups, therefore, the farmer must act through a collective instru- 
ment. Thus, during the twenties interest in cooperative associations of 
all sorts developed. Then, too, when the view became more widely held 

11 We have noted this view in William Allen White's discussion of the Coolidge Ad- 

12 For an analysis of this problem see Caroline F. Ware and Gardiner C. Means, The 
Modern Economy in Action (1936), especially "The Modern Corporation Destroys Auto- 
matic Adjustments," pp. 18 fr*. Note the table on p. 24. 

74 Department of Agriculture 

that production, as well as marketing, must be controlled and when the 
Hoover Administration met the depression's downward spirals with 
tariffs and the R.F.C., the pressure increased for comparable means to 
enable the individual farmer to protect himself in adjusting his pro- 
duction to available markets. Since markets were national and inter- 
national, this adjustment required the use of national government; con- 
sequently, a problem of constitutional law was presented. The 
Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 was, accordingly, based upon the 
spending power and the power to regulate commerce among the states, 
through the device of payment for compliance with production quotas 
and marketing agreements. 13 

Policy Development Under the AAA. 

The Act sought to establish parity prices in terms of a base level: 
for tobacco, the ten postwar years ending July, 1929; for other commodi- 
ties, the five prewar years ending July, 1914. Accompanying the program 
were export quotas under an international wheat agreement, distribution 
for relief of surplus farm commodities through the Federal Surplus Com- 
modities Corporation (a public corporation), loans on commodities, and 
taxes on the processing of the commodities whose producers would re- 
ceive benefit payments for compliance with the program. The policy of 
purchasing submarginal lands, reflecting the ideas of land-use planning, 
raised the problem of the relocation of those removed from such lands 
and the development and use of the lands thus retired. These policies 
obviously involved problems of relief, of local taxation, of changes in the 
size of farm or ranch units to adapt them to best use, of credit policy, and 
of water and soil conservation; they embraced many governmental 
units at all levels. Included in the A.A.A. after a reorganization in 1934 
was a Program Planning Division through which appraisal of policies 
was undertaken in the light of long-time needs and possibilities. The 
severe droughts and the dust storms of 1934 helped to focus public at- 
tention in a dramatic way on natural resources problems, particularly 
on the plight of the Great Plains region. Soil conservation work had been 
instituted as part of the program of the Public Works Administration, 
following the pioneer effort and zeal of H. H. Bennett of the Bureau of 

13 The most complete discussion of the A. A. A. program is that supplied by the Brookings 
Institution, including in its series: Nourse, Davis, and Black, Three Years of the Agri- 
cultural Adjustment Administration (1937); Davis, Wheat and the AAA (1935); Harold 
B. Rowe, Tobacco Under the AAA (1935); Nourse, Marketing Agreements Under the 
AAA (1935); Black, The Dairy Industry and the AAA (1935); D. A. FitzGerald, Live- 
stock Under the AAA (1935); and Henry I. Richards, Cotton and the AAA (1936). 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 7929-39 75 

Soils; in 1935 the work was established in the Soil Conservation Service 
of the Department of Agriculture, which became one of the largest units 
of the Department despite the opposition with which its appearance as 
an operating agency was greeted by those who wished to have this ac- 
tivity assigned to the land-grant institutions. 14 

In 1936-37 a grouping of services entitled the Resettlement Administra- 
tion, which had been gathered from various departments and placed 
under an Administrator who was also the Under Secretary of Agricul- 
ture, was transferred to the Department and became an operating bureau 
called the Farm Security Administration. The origins of this group of 
functions included activities of the Federal Emergency Relief Adminis- 
tration and of state relief agencies that administered rural relief; the ad- 
justment of farm debts by the F.C.A.; the subsistence homestead projects 
instituted in the Department of the Interior under the direction of M. L. 
Wilson upon his departure from the A.A.A.; some experimental sub- 
urban garden cities; the tenancy program authorized under a Bankhead- 
Jones Act; and the land-purchase and management work which had 
been instituted in various agencies, including the Land Policy Section 
of the A.A.A., the F.E.R.A., and the National Resources Committee. 

Agricultural Policy and Developments in Other Agencies 

Developments in other agencies outside the Department especially 
important to agricultural policy should be noted. Of course the general 
banking, currency, credit, and industrial recovery programs affected 
agriculture, as they did every aspect of American political economy. 
Prior to taking office President-elect Roosevelt had been working with 
advisers on various phases of policy. One of his first actions upon taking 
office was to exercise powers given to the President by a statute passed 
late in the Hoover Administration to reorganize, within limits, the ad- 
ministrative agencies. He placed functions pertaining to agricultural 
credit and the relation of government to producer cooperatives, which 

14 Some argued — and continue to argue — that research and demonstration work in soil 
conservation would be better advanced and administered by the procedure of national- 
state cooperation through grants-in-aid. The program had gotten under way, however, as 
a part of the general public works program of the time and supplied a dramatic example, 
fairly easily grasped, of the way in which people could be put to work on projects that 
would add to the basic wealth and productive power of the country. In fact, the Soil Con- 
servation Service was allocated, in an early draft of the legislation by which it was given 
statutory authorization, to the Department of the Interior, the head of which was also the 
Public Works Administrator, who was attempting to get the Department of the Interior 
recognized as a Department of Conservation. During the passage of the bill the change 
was made locating it in the Department of Agriculture. The more zealous advocates of the 
soil conservation program argued that the militant prosecution of the work would not 
be obtained under the grant-in-aid procedure. 

j6 Department of Agriculture 

had been exercised by the Federal Farm Loan Board and the Federal 
Farm Board, in a Farm Credit Administration. 15 Through a structure of 
cooperative agricultural credit institutions and by means of farm mort- 
gage adjustments and agricultural financial policies generally this agency, 
which the President in 1939 placed in the Department of Agriculture, 16 
administered an important sector of both the "recovery" and the "reform" 
programs of the Administration affecting agriculture and banking. The 
state programs of rural relief of the F.E.R.A., involving as they did 
questions of land use, farm management, and resettlement, as well as 
guidance and advice, directly affected agricultural policy. 

In addition to this direct relationship with relief programs, the De- 
partment had a major part in the use made of, and the direction and 
training given to, the Civilian Conservation Corps through the Forest 
Service, the Soil Conservation Service, and the Bureau of Biological 
Survey. For several years the Forest Service had been preparing a 
National Forest Plan in response to a Congressional resolution. Conse- 
quently, when the C.C.C. was established, the Forest Service was pre- 
pared at once to put great numbers of the Corps at work for which plans 
had already been made and priorities established. Other relief policies, 
developed under the Civil Works Administration and the Works Prog- 
ress Administration, were utilized by the Department in pushing for- 
ward water and soil programs, tree planting, rural road construction, 
and other enterprises that fitted into the general programs of the Depart- 
ment. The Bureau of Public Roads, also prepared by preliminary plan- 
ning and its equipment in personnel and other resources, was early the 
major instrument through which the effort was made to bring about 
recovery by means of public undertakings. Under the policy of expansion 
in highway grants the extension of national assistance from the "7 per 
centum" portion to a farm-to-market system was made. 

Other important developments in natural resources and public works 
programs affected the Department, although outside its administration. 
The long fight for public control and operation of the water-power and 
nitrate-factory projects in the Tennessee River came to a new stage with 
the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 — with the 
emphasis thereby given to a comprehensive regional treatment on a 
watershed basis of governmental action and planning. Department of 

15 William I. Myers of the Department of Agricultural Economics of the New York 
State College of Agriculture, who succeeded Henry Morgenthau, Jr., as the Administrator 
of this agency, was active in the preparation of the plan. 

18 See the President's Message and Reorganization Plan No. 1, Congressional Record, 
April 25, 1939, pp. 6576-81. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 7929-59 77 

Agriculture programs in the region were integrated with those of the 
T.V.A. and o£ the land-grant institutions through a joint coordinating 
committee on the basis of agreements. In 1934 a Division of Grazing was 
established in the Department of the Interior to administer grazing 
policies on the public domain under the authority of that Department. 
The work of this new unit and the activities of grazing associations 
under the Taylor Act by which it was established as well as the land- 
use policies of the Indian Service in the same Department were a 
constituent part of the land-use activities of the United States and would 
require integration with the related activities of the Department of 

In 1935 the Rural Electrification Administration was established as a 
separate agency to facilitate, by loans and technical services, the extension 
of electrical services through the medium of cooperative associations to 
rural communities. 17 This Administration, like the F.C.A., was also later 
placed in the Department of Agriculture. 18 Its program obviously was 
closely related on the one hand to the general prosperity of the farmers 
it served and their credit resources, and hence to the work of the F.C.A.; 
on the other hand, its program was related to those of the Department 
of Agriculture for land use and the facilitation of farm production, to 
the Bureau of Home Economics, and to the work of the Extension 

The inauguration of a water resources program that extended activi- 
ties beyond the channels of navigable streams into the up-stream "little 
waters" 19 and into the land areas liable to erosion as part of the flood 
prevention and control policy brought the Department into working 

17 A prophecy by Liberty Hyde Bailey in "The State and the "Farmer (New York: 
Macmillan Company, 1908), p. 57, may be recalled: "It is most interesting to follow the 
discussions on the means of developing water power: the Mississippi, Niagara, and other 
great streams were mentioned. This development, of course, is necessary. But rivers are 
not born as rivers. They originate from a little lake in the mountains, and a rill in a forest, 
and a spring in the pasture lot. To a great extent, they originate or are supplied from 
sources on some man's land. This man has the first use of the water. Every farm supplies 
something to the rivers. Many of them supply living lakes and streams. There are more 
than five millions of farms in the United States. Every good farm will in time have its 
own mechanical power. Much of it will be water power. When the farmer develops his 
water-power, he will also protect his stream or spring. It is more important that we 
develop small power on a million farms than that we organize power companies or harness 

18 See the message of the President submitting to Congress Reorganization Plan No. 2, 
Congressional Record, May 9, 1939, pp. 7423-27. The executive orders implementing 
Reorganization Plans Nos. 1 and 2 as approved by Congress are given in the Federal 
Register, July 1, 1939, pp. 2727-33. 

19 H. S. Person, with the cooperation of E. Johnston Coil and Robert T. Beall, Little 
Waters (for the Soil Conservation Service, Resettlement Administration, and R.E.A., 
I935)- This is a good example of current advances in the reporting of public questions.. 

yS Department of Agriculture 

relations with the Army Corps of Engineers. Thus, the Flood Control 
Act of June 22, 1936, extended the responsibilities of the Department 
further in the land-use field at a point hitherto reserved as sacred to the 
War Department. Finally, the Department's activities reached out be- 
yond national lines: in the negotiations over policies affecting world 
production and markets in farm commodities and in the formulation of 
trade agreements, it had great interests at stake that had to be related to 
other major interests in a delicate adjustment and balance affecting every 
phase of our domestic and international policy. 

The Shift from Emergency Policies 

Although we reserve for later appraisal 20 the evolution of programs 
associated with the A. A. A., we may note here the shift from emphasis 
on the emergency aspects, with the resulting concentration on the prices 
of selected commodities, to a policy based upon more fundamental con- 
siderations of adjustment of farming to the best use of the land. 21 This 
change was approached through a research program of the Program 
Planning Division, which included studies of land use undertaken by 
farmer county committees and the state agricultural experiment stations, 
studies of food needs undertaken by the Bureau of Home Economics, 
and experiments with more flexible and comprehensive farm- 
management plans based upon best use of the land in selected counties. 
The purpose of the program was to see how far local adjustments might 
be made within the framework of standards developed on a national 
scale to fit national and international markets. 

It was the task of administrators, in part, to soften the evil conse- 
quences of generalized legislation reflecting the demand of pressure 
groups for subsidies. They canalized such programs, so far as possible, 
in such a way as to forward those changes in land use that would facili- 
tate, not retard, best adjustment of use to resources. Hence came the 
effort to shift payments to a soil conservation basis, to develop an over-all, 
comprehensive farm plan for each farm instead of a payment relating to 
commodities, and, through an interesting program of adult education, to 
bring national and state officials and farmers and farm women into a re- 
sponsible sharing in the analysis of basic agricultural problems. 22 

20 See below, pp. 103-14 and 192-209. 

21 These tendencies antedated, but were greatly speeded by, the decision of the United 
States Supreme Court invalidating the 1933 Act. 

22 See, for example, the pamphlet by Bushrod Allin of the Program Planning Division 
of the A.A.A., "Soil Conservation — Its Place in National Agricultural Policy," published 
in May, 1936, by the A.A.A., in which the shift in objectives is discussed, pp. 24-27. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1929-39 79 

It is also significant that in the administration of the A.A.A. local 
committees of farmers were employed: here again is an illustration of 
the integration of a vocational group with the general structure of gov- 
ernment and a device of greatest interest to the student of administration. 
Another innovation was the establishment of a Consumers' Counsel in 
the A.A.A. 23 Part of the task of reaching some balance, compromise, or 
integration among the various interests was transferred from parties and 
legislatures to administrative agencies; indeed, some measure of legis- 
lative power was delegated to the latter. 

We believe that the Department, as something more than a collection 
of semiautonomous bureaus, had, by 1939, "come of age" as a Depart- 
ment. 24 Both the development of its activities and the national political 
economy have brought not only one bureau into important relationships 
with another but also have brought the Department as a whole into im- 
portant relationships with other departments of the national government 
and with state and local governments as well. These activities have ex- 
panded beyond the scope of research and information; indeed, they were 
never so confined, when one recalls that the land policy of the national 
government was for a century its most important contribution to agri- 
culture and was, furthermore, most decidedly an action policy. Since the 
activities of the different units are so sensitively interdependent, the De- 
partment is potentially much more an organism, and in its relation to 
other departments and to other levels of government it is much more a 
part of a larger organism. Provision must therefore be made for the 
resultant organic needs, which center in the development of policy, 
in the making of plans, and in their execution through programs and 
priorities. This necessity was reflected in the 1938 reorganization of the 
Department in the Mt. Weather Agreement 25 covering part of its rela- 
tions with the states and in the general reorganization plan covering the 
national government as a whole. The bitterness with which some of these 
developments have been debated reflects less a disagreement over devices 
than our failure to realize the revolution that has been taking place in 
our political economy since the Civil War. Such bitterness further re- 
flects our failure to realize the adjustments in instruments of public 

23 See below, pp. 202-7 & 

24 We discuss this point in detail in Part III; here we only call attention to the way 
in which the historical evolution of activities forces a reconsideration of organization and 
relationship at this time. 

25 See below, p. 157. 

80 Department of Agriculture 

housekeeping that are necessary if the public interest is to be discovered 
and served. 26 Against this background can better be understood the es- 
tablishment in the Department of the Office of Land Use Coordination; 
the assignment to the B.A.E. of the responsibility for research on program 
and plans; the establishment of working relations with other depart- 
ments through the National Resources Planning Board and the Central 
Statistical Board; the emphasis on regional and on comprehensive farm- 
management approaches to problems of production and land use; the 
recognition of problems of farm labor and of the more disadvantaged 
groups in agriculture; and the appearance of new slogans, such as "the 
ever-normal granary" and "democracy in administration." 

Some factors explain, too, the strains that have accompanied this 
period of adjustment. No longer is the personnel so largely recruited 
from the land-grant colleges; some of the new programs have been 
associated, in part at least, with the coming of personnel from urban 
universities and from nonrural interests and background. The exemption 
of some of the new agencies from the application of the Civil Service 
Act, and their establishment at a time when a party had come to power 
hungry for jobs after a long period in opposition, contributed to suspicion 
and bitterness, for agriculture is a field of government that in the North- 
east and Middle West had been associated with the Republican party — 
dominant since the Civil War. Difficult adjustments had to be made 
with other departments and agencies: in matters of credit and finance, 
with the F.C.A., the Treasury Department, the R.F.C., and the Federal 
Reserve System; of marketing, with the Department of Commerce and 
the Federal Trade Commission; of relief, with the F.E.R.A. and its 
state and local affiliates and successors; of land use, with the Depart- 
ment of the Interior and the War Department; and in the administration 
of the A.A.A., the Soil Conservation Service, and the F.S.A., with the 
land-grant colleges. 

Another cause of difficulty and friction was the neglect, with few ex- 
ceptions, by local and state governments of adequate land-use planning, 
so that they might be in a position to fit national programs into an al- 
ready developed scheme of local and state programs and priorities. 
Here again we find illustrated the need for the study locally of local 
resources and problems in relation to the possible adaptation of state 
and national powers, resources, and policies to the realization of local 

26 See, for example, Ware and Means, op. cit., chap, xi, "The Role of Government"; 
Zoltan Magyary, The Industrial State (1938); and Ernest Griffith, The Impasse of 
Democracy (1939). See also below, pp. 275-88. 

Policy and Efforts at Integration: 1929-39 81 

improvements and policies generally. 27 Local and regional planning — 
and the research of the many scientists necessary for their success — must 
utilize the resources of every level of government and relate them all 
to the ecological pattern. 

27 See National Resources Committee, Regional Factors in National Planning and Develop- 
ment (1935). See also below, chaps. 8 and 17. 

Chapter 5 


The history of the Department illustrates the presence of factors 
that seem to influence the evolution of activities and of structure. 
Consequently the resulting organization may appear to be plan- 
less and illogical, yet during the process of growth, adjustments and ac- 
commodations may be made that mitigate potentially evil effects — al- 
though surgery, as well as internal medicine, may be required. 1 In any 
event, the student of administration will find in the influence of these 
conditioning factors some explanation of the nature of a department. 


The most basic factor is the influence of changes in the natural and 
social environment upon the activities of government and the ideas 
that people have about them. Thus, the development of rapid trans- 
portation and of refrigeration creates a demand for market services to 
producer and distributor. Public forestry policies are affected both by the 
clearing of forest lands by man and by beliefs in a future timber famine. 
Although such beliefs may rest on inadequate knowledge, they are of 
political importance. Again, a conception of our political economy as 
one in which the farmer performs the basic and fundamental role as both 
producer and consumer influences the course of legislation. Furthermore, 
when aspects of the natural and social environment are registered in 
catastrophes, such as floods, dust storms, droughts, epidemics, mass 
unemployment, or foreclosures, the process is hastened of creating con- 
sciousness in "private" individuals of a "public" question, and action 
through government is generally more quickly adopted and in more 
drastic ways. 2 

These influences are registered through four groups, especially the or- 

1 Surgery — a sudden and comprehensive reallocation of activities and agencies — may 
do serious injury to administrative health if there is failure to note the internal adjust- 
ments, made over a long time. Note the warnings concerning this in Meriam and 
Schmeckebier, op. cit., especially chap, vi, and Report of the President's Committee on 
Administrative Management (1937), especially pp. 36-38. 

2 I am sure that my own interest in forest policy is colored (literally!) by my recollec- 
tion of the leaping mass of fire in the forest as it approached our camp in the Adirondacks 
when I was a small boy. J.M.G. 


Influences on the Evolution of the Department 83 

ganized interest or pressure groups and the civil servants. The two groups 
named have this circumstance in common: both are in closest touch 
with a subject-matter field and can record most quickly changes that go 
on in that field. Under modern conditions of complex social organization 
the civil servant is the nearest to an agent of the whole public in his 
ultimate function of looking out for the public interest not only in the 
administration of existing law but also in observing social changes. 3 
Furthermore, one cannot understand a great government department 
in terms of its functions unless one also includes as a determining factor 
the work of pioneer civil servants. Organized interest groups are also 
sensitive to the impact of developments on the special interests of their 
members. 4 Thus, the regulation of meats has been due, in part at least, to 
the pressure of interests desirous of reopening foreign markets to 
American products. The establishment of various research stations has 
been fostered by the growers of commodities who would profit by the 
resulting information. Again, the development of programs of subsidy 
in various forms has been pressed by those who would be favored. 

A third group consists of those persons who may not be civil servants 
or may not be associated with a special interest group but whose civic 
interests, imagination, opportunities, and personalities lead them to be- 
come aware earlier than most of us of an emerging public problem. The 
work of John Muir in the conservation of national forests and parks is 
an illustration; sometimes pioneer work is done by an association in 

8 We have already noted the influence of civil servants whose researches have led them 
to diagnose the approach and arrival of problems whose solutions call for collective action 
through government. This responsibility has come to be recognized, as illustrated by the 
following comment made during debate on flood control appropriations by Representative 
Snyder: "Up in Pennsylvania 60 years ago or 70 years ago, or maybe 50 years ago, our 
grandfathers thought they were getting rich by cutting multiple millions of feet of timber 
and taking it to market. Today we have hillsides that are bare of shrubbery by tens of 
thousands and hundreds of thousands of acres. For every dollar in value of timber they 
took off the hills in California and off the hills of Pennsylvania, future generations 
will have to spend $10 to put it back to get to a place where it is as serviceable as it was 

"I blame somebody for that, and future generations will look back to us and they will 
blame us for a lot of things we did not do, and rightly so. I am blaming somebody in the 
Department of Agriculture down here 20 years or 30 years ago, if they had such a Depart- 
ment then, for not having enough fight in them to do what these gentlemen have been 
fighting for in reforesting these hills and soil conservation. So, I hope this generation and 
the Department of Agriculture will have enough fight in them to put up a fight until you 
get something in this particular field of reforestation." War Department Civil Functions 
Appropriation (1939), pp. 197-98. 

*This sensitiveness is magnified by their paid officials in the national capital and state 
capitals, or in the commercial, financial, and industrial centers of the nation, who are 
naturally eager to maintain the membership of the group, to enhance the prestige of the 
central office, and to insure the favorable attitude of members toward their own conduct 
of the secretariat. 

84 Department of Agriculture 

which no one person is predominant and the interest of which may 
approach that of a specialized pressure group. A number of women's 
organizations concerning themselves with current problems of public 
health, of nutrition, and of consumers' standards illustrate this role 
of associations. 

"Influence is not government," however. The influence and knowl- 
edge of pressure groups, civil servants, and civic organizations and 
pioneers must be registered and legalized through statute to affect the 
functions of a department in any continuing and fundamental way. 
Hence, as a fourth group political leaders in Congress, the presidency, 
and the secretaryship must be included among the important forces con- 
tributing to the functional meaning of the Department. In this connec- 
tion we recall Senator Morrill and Representative Lever; Presidents Lin- 
coln, Wilson, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt; and among the Secre- 
taries, Wilson, Houston, and the two Wallaces. The function of the polit- 
ical leaders is one of evaluation and appraisal of ideas and pressures. Both 
the stage of social and economic development and the interests of regions, 
classes, vocational groups, and parties are reflected in the policies and 
the legislation promoted by such bodies. 


A second major conditioning factor in the evolution of the activities 
of the Department is the distribution of constitutional power between 
the state and local governments. At times, indeed, the legitimacy of 
a national Department of Agriculture has been questioned on constitu- 
tional grounds. It may be recalled that it was established only after the 
political victory of the Republican party and the departure of the south- 
erners from Congress; the fact that perhaps its major expansion occurred 
during a Democratic administration starting in 1932 will not disturb 
the student of American party history. 

The constitutional setting has, however, conditioned the development 
of the Department by basing its functions either upon the power of the 
national government to tax, to spend money for the general welfare (sub- 
ject, of course, to specific prohibitions or those implied by the Supreme 
Court), to own property (as, for example, the national forests and wild- 
life refuges), or to regulate commerce. The powers to maintain post 
roads and to fix standards of weights and measures have also been used. 
It is interesting to observe that in the flood-control program developed 
since 1932 the Department of Agriculture has cooperated with the 
War Department and that ultimately both have participated in this 

Influences on the Evolution of the Department 85 

activity through the commerce power, from which the authority of the 
national government over navigable streams is derived. The spending 
power has made possible an extension of activities through grants-in- 
aid to the states for various purposes and also through the offering of 
payments to individuals in return for compliance with certain regula- 
tions. 5 

The exercise of powers by the national, state, and local governments 
is also affected both by the availability of financial and other administra- 
tive resources adequate to the problem attacked and by the coercive con- 
ditions that have led to a movement for protection or countercoercion 
through government. Thus, the management of a farm "within the 
fences" is obviously of local concern — largely that of the individual 
owner; but he may be dependent upon prices for his product which 
passes out his gate. These prices coerce him in determining his own 
farm-management plans, and he cannot countercoerce them through his 
local or state governments if other growers of the commodities he pro- 
duces and sells are scattered throughout several states. Reference to the 
influence of the distribution of constitutional powers is made, therefore, 
with this setting in mind. 


A third conditioning factor is the availability upon any occasion, 
when the possibility of a new activity of government is being discussed, 
of resources for administering the proposed function. The development 
of a great system of automobile highways was pushed most by urban 
automobile owners and by automobile manufacturers, and the central 
interest at the time was hardly that of the rural sections of the country. 
Yet the presence in the Department of the Office of Public Roads made 
it seem the natural unit of the national government through which the 
federal-aid highway system should be inaugurated. Similarly, the ex- 
istence of the Forest Service, with its unique body of trained foresters, 
made it the natural agency to administer national forests, even though 
this meant their transfer from the national domain administered by the 
Land Office of the Department of the Interior. The existence of the lab- 
oratories of the Bureau of Chemistry, in which food-analysis work had 
been undertaken for some time, made the Department a logical place 
for the administration of the Food and Drugs Act. The existence of a 

5 This last power was, of course, called in question by the Supreme Court in the famous 
Hoosac Mills case. In view of later judicial decisions its constitutional status is not clear 
but is generally considered well established. 

86 Department of Agriculture 

staff of scientists in the Bureau of Animal Industry made that agency 
the logical one for the task of meat inspection. ■ 

Personalities, of course, have also played a part in this allocation of 
functions. One cannot leave out of the total account the influence that 
the friendship of Gifford Pinchot and Theodore Roosevelt had on the 
development of the Forest Service. Nor can one overlook the fact that 
Mr. Wiley personally had become a symbol of their cause to those urging 
the passage of the Food and Drugs Act. Particularly in the borderline 
cases, when a new activity may be allocated with almost equal reason 
to any one of several departments, the factors of personality and existing 
administrative resources are of great importance. While the personality 
factor has undeniably been present in the evolution of the Department, 
it has probably not been so important as perhaps in the history of other 
departments. Here it has been dissolved because a corporate factor — the 
influence of the land-grant college training and tradition — has been 
overwhelmingly strong. Most of the personnel of the Department who 
have wielded a major influence, including most of the scientific workers 
as well as a majority of the secretaries themselves, were guided in their 
formative period by the land-grant college tradition. There has been a 
tendency, therefore, to subject the evolution of functions to criteria 
evolved from that tradition. Even in 1939 after several years of extensive 
legislation that went beyond what many hold to be "the legitimate func- 
tions of the Department," the Department was hastening to bring its 
activities and procedures into as close an integration with the traditional 
national-state arrangements as practical. 

In this historical account of the Department's evolution and of the 
factors conditioning it, a description of the gradual and atomic accumula- 
tion of the Department's activities and agencies has been unavoidable. 
Such a description may conceal groupings of activities that will at once 
help us to discover the true nature of the Department and indicate its 
chief problems of administration. Are there, in fact, such major group- 
ings of activities ? If so, the important administrative tasks are to see that 
the various administrative units are related effectively in these activities 
and that all the materials needed in the preparation of policy in the De- 
partment are currently available; to see that the Department's share 
in these activities in relationship to other departments and to other levels 
of government, notably the states, is adequately recognized and im- 
plemented; to see that the Department is equipped to participate effec- 

Influences on the Evolution of the Department 87 

tively in the development o£ the policy of the Administration as a whole; 
to present to Congress an intelligible account of its stewardship; to carry 
out the duties placed upon it by Congress and President; to meet the 
standards of just enforcement upon the review of its actions by the courts; 
and to mediate among the innumerable separate interests afrected by its 
responsibilities in the formulation, within its discretionary powers, of a 
national agricultural policy. 

The conception of a department as an organic and integrated admin- 
istrative entity instead of a somewhat casually assembled collection of 
technical services is relatively new in American government. It carries 
far-reaching and basic implications for the organization of a department 
in such a way as to reflect these organic functions and for the nature of 
the positions for which its personnel must be recruited, classified and, 
after entrance, trained. We turn, therefore, to an appraisal of the basic 
groups of the Department's activities that constitute actually or poten- 
tially the major themes that should determine the Department's organ- 
ization and procedures, its part in the formulation of collective policy, 
and its relationship to regional, state, and local problems and policies 
under our constitutional system. 


Part II 

Substantive Activities of the Department 
of Agriculture 

Chapter 6 


The executive departments of the national government are, in 
contemporary jargon, "action agencies." They may exercise their 
coercive power indirectly, as through research and the publication 
of the resulting conclusions, or directly, as in the regulation of rates and 
standards that fix the plane on which individuals may compete for the 
public's favor and trade or as in the administration of public forests, 
docks, or post offices. Sometimes students of law and administration, in 
their zeal to explore questions of procedure or problems of managerial 
technique, may seem to forget the purposes, rooted in the political econ- 
omy of the time, that have called an administrative agency into existence 
and that continue always to condition its life. 

To understand the nature and problems of the Department, we must 
supplement our account of its evolution with a cross-section analysis of 
its substantive activities and of the line agencies 1 that administer them. 
Are the Department's activities a casual and unrelated aggregation ? Or 
is there actually or potentially an organic quality recognized and given 
treatment through instruments of policy-making and management ade- 
quate to the resulting external and internal relationships ? We have ar- 
gued that the Department's history reflects important changes in the 
natural and social environment of the United States. The expansion of 
government generally has reflected these changes. More detailed analysis 
of the Department's current activities should enable us better to appreci- 
ate its administrative problems and the efforts to solve them and should 
throw light upon the nature of the Department generally. 

In discussions of the Department's current activities terms are fre- 
quently used, such as "legitimate functions," "action programs," and 
other phrases, that suggest a sharp break with the past and perhaps a 
challenge to an earlier, more organic and unified Department. The cate- 

x We use the term "line agency" as employed by Luther Gulick in his essay, "The 
Theory of Organization," in Luther Gulick and L. Urwick, Papers on the Science of 
Administration (1937), p. 31; by Urwick, ibid., pp. 57-59; by Leonard D. White in 
Introduction to the Study of Public Administration (rev. ed., 1939); and by John M. Gaus 
in "A Theory of Organization," in John M. Gaus, Leonard D. White, and Marshall E. 
Dimock, The Frontiers of Public Administration (1936). 


92 Department of Agriculture 

gories used in an official publication describing the Department, first 
issued in 1930, are of interest. 2 

All the Department's ordinary activities — i.e., not including emer- 
gency adjustment work — may be divided roughly into six general 
classes: (1) Research; (2) extension and information; (3) eradica- 
tion or control of plant and animal diseases and pests; (4) service 
activities, such as weather and crop reporting, and forest and wildlife 
refuge administration; (5) the administration of regulatory laws; and 
(6) road construction. These functions are closely interrelated and in- 
terdependent. Research, for example, is not complete in itself. Knowl- 
edge gained must be communicated to the public, used in eradicating 
plant and animal pests, and incorporated in regulatory-law administra- 
tion. It is as essential a duty of the Department to promote the applica- 
tion of science as it is to increase scientific knowledge. These manifold 
duties, though not the result of a preconceived plan, did not come about 
fortuitously. They developed from small beginnings in directions de- 
termined by agricultural and national wants and by the growth 
of science. The Department is not a mechanical creation but a living 
institution evolving structurally and functionally in a changing world. 
While the Department of Agriculture is called the farmer's branch of 
the Government, actually it is much more. Benefits arising out of the 
Department's expenditures go to the entire public. Much of its work 
promotes public health and well-being. Its research, by helping 
farmers to grow better crops and livestock, to reduce their costs, and to 
market their products more efficiently, benefits the consumer as well 
as the producer. 

The categories thus employed would have to be amended in the light of 
some of the activities undertaken since 1932. But even for the year 1930, 
as the quotation indicates, some of these categories are more descriptive 
of types of procedure — research, information, regulation — than of es- 
sential substantive differences. 

Stated most broadly, the tasks of the Department center in the facili- 
tation of the production and the marketing of agricultural products 
(basically, plant and animal products). Such an assignment implies, 
however, the further responsibility for the public aspects of agriculture in 
our political economy as a whole, for the well-being of those engaged in 
agriculture as persons and citizens, and for programs conditioning land 
use. We shall use, therefore, the following classification in discussing the 
Department's major groups of activities: 

Production : soil, plants, animals, protection from hazards, equipment, 
and production goals. 

2 Department of Agriculture, The United States Department of Agriculture, Misc. Pub. 
No. 88 (1934)3 PP- 5-6. 

Activities as the Core of the Department 93 

Land Use: the conservation movement, and land use and the New 

Marketing and Distribution: protection of markets, consumer pro- 
tection, grades and standards, marketing practices, transportation, ad- 
justment, the consumers' counsel, surplus disposal, and nutrition. 

Rural Life: the farm home and the rural community: research, in- 
formation, and extension; the expansion of research; disadvantaged 
rural classes; and the Department and rural local government. 


This classification may appear arbitrary. We hasten to emphasize 
that many lines of interrelationship exist among the departmental 
agencies to which these activities are entrusted (lines which may be 
thought of as horizontal on the typical organization chart) and also be- 
tween the Department at Washington, its own field units, and state 
agencies (lines which may be thought of as vertical) .We should add, too, 
that many of the Department's activities are such that cooperation must 
be sought with other departments of the national government. Each line 
agency has administrative problems common to the other line agencies 
and may benefit by common services. From our concluding review of 
the line agencies that administer the substantive activities of the De- 
partment, the Department may emerge as an entity additional to and 
comprehensive of the substantive activities administered by the line 
agencies, and possessing therefore a function as a Department. 

Chapter 7 

Production has been the traditional major interest of the Depart- 
ment. Although no operating bureau is labeled with the term 
"production," we may say that the very core of the Department 
historically is to be found in the Bureaus of Plant and Animal Industry 
— which have continued to occupy the two original wings of the main 
building. Most of the other operating bureaus — and some of the auxiliary 
and general-staff services — are outgrowths of these Bureaus, especially 
of the Bureau of Plant Industry. For many years they had, with the 
Forest Service, the largest personnel of the Department. 1 We have 
classified the chief aspects of agricultural production with which the 
Department is concerned as soils, plants, animals, protection from haz- 
ards, equipment, and production goals. 2 


The soils work of the Department was in 1939 undertaken chiefly by 
the Bureau of Plant Industry and the Soil Conservation Service. Located 
in the Bureau of Plant Industry, under an assistant chief, were the fol- 
lowing divisions : Forage Crops and Diseases, Soil Survey, Soil Chemistry 
and Physics, Research, Soil Fertility Investigations, and Soil Microbi- 
ology. In the Division of Research of the Soil Conservation Service were 
the following sections: Climatic and Physiographic Factors of Erosion, 
Economics of Soil Conservation, Hillculture Studies, Sedimentation 
Studies, Reservoir Silting Investigations, Silting Damage to Stream 
Channels and Valleys Investigations, Soil and Water Conservation Ex- 
periment Stations, and Watershed and Hydrologic Studies. 3 In this 

1 The subject matter of the Forest Service may properly be considered as a specialized 
part of the field of plant industry. 

2 Activities of each bureau are reviewed annually in the printed reports of their chiefs. 
Generally these reports list the publications of the bureau for the year, including papers 
of the staff published in journals of learned societies and elsewhere. Most of the bureaus 
also issue lists of their publications available for free distribution. There is also the printed 
List of Publications of the United States Department of Agriculture , issued by the Division 
of Publications of the Office of Information. We have cited for most agencies discussed 
here a few sample publications to convey more concretely the kind of research and in- 
formational services that they supply; we have confined our selection chiefly to publica- 
tions or reissues of the fiscal year July i, 1938, to June 30, 1939. 

8 Sample publications of the Soil Conservation Service are Miscellaneous Publication, 
Land Facts on the Southern Plains (334); Farmers' Bulletins: Native and Adopted Grasses 


Production 95 

Service there was also a Division of Watershed and Conservation Surveys 
operating in twelve major regions. The Bureau of Agricultural Chem- 
istry and Engineering also was concerned with soil problems in its 
Divisions of Irrigation and of Drainage. 4 

The Department's earlier soils work had been conducted largely in 
cooperation with the states. For this reason the rapid development of 
the Soil Conservation Service, with its own regional and state experi- 
ment and demonstration projects and its effort to stimulate, through ap- 
propriate legislation, soil conservation districts, on occasion alarmed some 
state experiment station and extension officials. By 1939 the Service was 
establishing but few new experiment stations and demonstration projects 
and had adopted the policy of working thereafter through soil con- 
servation districts and land-grant institutions. In the reorganization of 
the Department the Service was assigned functions relating to erosion 
control, the provision of water facilities, flood control, submarginal land 
purchase and development, and farm-forestry "to provide a comprehen- 
sive land utilization and conservation service for all but forest and 
wildlife lands." Thus, it became a direct field land-use operating agency 
of the Department. The integration of its activities with those of other 
agencies in the field was one of the administrative tasks of the new county 
agricultural land-use committees. 

The basic researches in chemistry, physics, botany, and biology, es- 
sential to a study of soils, 5 and their application to land and water op- 
erations conducive to soil conservation required the integration of 
several units within the Department of Agriculture with the Geological 
Survey of the Department of the Interior, and with the land-grant in- 

for the Conservation of Soil and Moisture in the Great Plains and Western States (1812), 
Wildlife Conservation through Erosion Control in the Piedmont (1788), Cover Crops 
for Soil Conservation (1758), Soil and Water Conservation in the Pacific Northwest (1773), 
Soil Defense in the Northeast, South, Piedmont (1809, 1810, 1767); Circulars: Soil 
Erosion in the Karst Lands of Kentucky (490) ; Erosion and Related Land Use Conditions 
on the Reedy For\ Demonstration Area, North Carolina; and the monthly illustrated 
journal, Soil Conservation. The Soil Survey Manual, prepared by Charles E. Kellogg of the 
Soil Survey Division of the Bureau of Plant Industry, describes the making of soil surveys; 
soil surveys are published by this Division. Other publications on soils in 1938 are listed 
in the Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, pp. 49-55. For a general 
presentation of the work of the Soil Conservation Service see Russell Lord, To Hold This 
Soil, Misc. Pub. No. 321 (1938). 

4 Cf. its Farmers' Bulletins, Pumping Water from Wells for Irrigation (1404), Farm 
Drainage (1606), The Border Method of Irrigation (1243), Maying Lime on the Farm 
(1801); Miscellaneous Publication, Rainfall Intensity-Frequency Data (204) ; and Technical 
Bulletins, Rate of Flow of Capillary Moisture (579) and Relation of Stable Environment 
to Mil\ Production (591). 

6 See Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, "Soil, a Living Organism," in Bio-Dynamic Farming and 
Gardening (1938). 

g6 Department of Agriculture 

stitutions. This situation was typical of the problem of coordination 
existing in most of the Department's activities. The new emphasis on soil 
erosion, however, led to other lines of activity affecting agricultural 
production and involving other departments. 6 

The dramatic and catastrophic floods and dust storms of the thirties 
affected national policies by stimulating programs of soil conservation. 
The Department was authorized to cooperate in flood control work, 
theretofore the exclusive charge of the Army Corps of Engineers. The 
soil conservation aspect of the work of the T.V.A. was particularly 
significant, for it was one part of an integrated attack upon a watershed 
area that included measures of control of water on the land as well as in 
the channels. 7 The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the T.V.A., 
Harcourt Morgan (for many years President of the University of Ten- 
nessee), who had been a student of soil problems, was aware of the crit- 
ical stage of soil depletion in that region. 8 The agricultural adjustment 
program reflected also, in the provision for soil conservation payments, 
the importance of the new emphasis; no activity of the Department de- 
pended so much for its successful administration upon a nice integration 
of the programs of many national, state, and local agencies. We might 
with equal reason discuss this factor of production — and other factors 
also — as a part of the group of land-use activities ; we return perforce to 
soil activities in our discussion of adjustment, as well as of land use. 


Major responsibility for the production of plants rested at the time of 
this study with the Bureau of Plant Industry and the Forest Service. 9 
The organization of these activities was chiefly by plant type; but a few 
units reflected regional ecology. For example, in the Bureau of Plant In- 

6 An introduction to problems of soil erosion and its civic implications may be ob- 
tained from Paul B. Sears, Deserts on the March (1935), and Russell Lord, Behold Our 
Land (1938). See also a discussion of the problem throughout the world by two English 
scientists, G. V. Jacks and R. O. Whyte, Vanishing Lands (1939). Note also the review 
of this book in Land Policy Review, November -December, 1939, by Charles E. 
Kellogg, Chief of the Division of Soil Survey of the Bureau of Plant Industry. 

7 See Fifty Inches of Rain, A Story of Land and Water Conservation; and Soil, The 
Nation's Basic Heritage; issued by the T.V.A., but prepared jointly by the seven land- 
grant colleges and universities of the Valley in cooperation with the Department of 
Agriculture and the T.V.A. 

8 See, for example, "A Unified Program of Land and Water Conservation," an address 
before the National Rivers and Harbors Congress, Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D. C, 
March 23, 1939. 

9 Marketing services of importance to production are the Seed Reporting, Seed Market- 
ing Investigations, and Seed Verification Services of the Division of Hay, Feed and Seed 
of the Agricultural Marketing Service. See W. A. Wheeler, "Conditions Change in Seed 
Industry," The Agricultural Situation, June, 1939, pp. 19-21. 

Production 97 

dustry were the following major subject-matter divisions: Cereal Crops 
and Diseases, Cotton and Other Fiber Crops and Diseases, Drug and Re- 
lated Plants, Forage Crops and Diseases, Forest Pathology, Fruit and 
Vegetable Crops and Diseases, Mycology and Disease Survey, 10 Neonatol- 
ogy, Plant Exploration and Introduction, Sugar Plant Investigations, 
Tobacco and Plant Nutrition, and (reflecting regional ecology) Divisions 
of Dry Land Agriculture and of Western Irrigation Agriculture. 11 

The work of the Forest Service in the field was organized about the 
regional forest experiment stations and the forest regions through which 
the national forests were administered. In the Washington office forest 
research was administered under an assistant chief through the follow- 
ing divisions: Forest Economics, Forest Influences, Forest Products, 
Range Research, Silvics, State Cooperation, Timber Management, and 
Wildlife Management. Several divisions in the Washington office of the 
Service handled the general management problems of the forests. 12 

The Chief Forester, in his 1938 report, emphasized the production 
needs in forestry estimated in terms of industrial requirements, agri- 
cultural needs, supplementary employment for farmers, reproducible 
raw materials for physical and chemical products, adjustment of forests 
to regional requirements, to exports, to protection of water supply, to 
prevention of floods and erosion, to homes and refuges for wildlife, and 
to human recreation. The relation of forest restoration, rehabilitation, 
and management to increasing national employment and income was 
stressed; a program of research and inventory, management of public 
forests, and the relation of government to private forest lands were 
discussed: 13 

10 This unit, whose activities fall within the group we have termed "protection," issues 
The Plant Disease Reporter. 

31 The listing of publications in the Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Plant 
Industry (1938) covers pp. 25-37. Subjects (each with several items) were: Cereals; 
Cotton; Drug and Related Plants; Flax; Forage Crops; Forest Tree Diseases; Fruits; 
Mycology and Pathology; Nematodes; Nuts; Ornamentals; Plant Exploration and 
Introduction; Seeds; Sugar Beet; Sugar Cane; Tobacco and Plant Nutrition; Vegetables. 
Among Miscellaneous Publications listed is M. A. McCall, "The Relation of the Na- 
tional Agricultural Program to Agronomic Betterment," Journal of the American Society 
of Agronomy, March, 1938, pp. 171-78. 

^Sample publications are Farmers' Bulletins: Forestry and Farm Income (11 17), 
Making Woodlands Profitable in the Southern States (1071), Sawfiy Injurious to Young 
Pines (1259), Use of Logs and Poles in Farm Construction (1660), Production of Maple 
Sirup and Sugar (1366), Christmas Trees as a Cash Crop for the Farm (1664), The Wind- 
break^ as a Farm Asset (1405), Planting and Care of Shelter Belts on the Northern Great 
Plains (1603); Miscellaneous Publications: The Work °f tne Forest Service (290), Forestry 
and Permanent Prosperity (247). See also Price List 43 (32nd ed.), on "Forestry" (Supt. 
of Documents), and List of Forest Service Publications Available for Free Public Dis- 
tribution, U. S. Forest Service (rev. February, 1939). 

^Report of the Chief of the Forest Service, 1938, pp. 2-3, 16-17. 

98 Department of Agriculture 

There is . . . need for a forest policy recognizing: 

1. That on the whole this 630 million acres is and probably always will 
be more valuable in forest than in any other use. 

2. That this 630 million acres must be adequately protected against 
damage or destruction by fire, insects, diseases, and quick liquidation. 

3. That on this 630 million acres adequate forest and other cover must 
be restored where necessary, and maintained. 

4. That on part of it — the 462 million acres of commercial forest lands 
— growing stock and productivity must be built up and maintained. 

. 5. That though interests of private owners who comply with the Na- 
tion's forest policy must be protected, so must public interests inherent 
in all forest lands; that in private and public welfare there must be full 
and continuous use of all products, values, and services forest lands and 
their resources can and do render locally, nationally, and through 
world-wide markets. 

6. That research — including research in utilization and economics in 
particular — is essential to full and continuous use, and must be so 
planned and executed as to help make the many wood products and 
by-products of wood easily and readily available to consumers 

7. That since the forest resource is inextricably bound up with use of 
land for other agricultural purposes, forest management and use are 
integral parts of a unified agricultural pattern that must contribute 
fully and continuously to local and national social and economic 

The plan of action proposed in the President's special message (p. 15) 
is based on those human needs without which forest utilization is im- 
possible and forest conservation meaningless. Its essentials are (1) 
public (State and Federal) cooperation with private owners; (2) 
public regulation of forest land; (3) extension of public ownership and 

No agency better illustrates the characteristic problem of functional 
interrelationship than the Forest Service. It cooperates, as we have seen, 
with the state governments in administering grants-in-aid for forestry 
and in acquiring and managing public forests; with private owners 
through protection of their forests from fires, diseases, and pests, re- 
search on technical, economic, and processing problems, and the develop- 
ment of farm forests; with the Department of the Interior in the develop- 
ment of grazing policies; and with the C.C.C., the National Youth 
Administration, and the W.P.A. in administering forestry programs that 
provide useful work. In forestry the government participates more in 
actual production and in protecting the possibilities of production by 
private operators than in any other sector of our economy. 

Production 99 


Functions related to animal production were in 1939 administered 
through the Bureau of Animal Industry and the Bureau of Dairy In- 
dustry. 14 The major divisions of the Bureau of Animal Industry included 
Animal Husbandry, Animal Nutrition, the Biochemic Division, Field 
Inspection, Meat Inspection, the Pathological Division, Tick Eradication 
and Special Diseases, Tuberculosis Eradication, Virus-Serum Control, 
and the Zoological Division. 15 The Field Inspection Division adminis- 
tered various quarantine laws — an important part of the protective ac- 
tivities of the Department. Meat inspection was a market service. 16 The 
basic units into which the divisions were organized may be exemplified 
by listing those of the Animal Industry Division: Beef and Dual Pur- 
pose Cattle, Swine, Sheep, Goats and Animal Fibers, Horses and Mules, 
Poultry, Genetics, Meat, and Extension. The Division's investigations 
were conducted cooperatively with the Animal Nutrition Division. 17 
The divisions of the Bureau of Dairy Industry included Dairy Cattle 
Breeding, Feeding, and Management; Dairy Herd Improvement In- 
vestigations; Dairy Research Laboratories; Market-Milk Investigations; 
and Nutrition and Physiology. 18 


We have noted that much of the work designed to protect the pro- 
ducers of plants and animals from the hazards of animal and plant dis- 

14 To these should be added the Biological Survey, which was transferred on July I, 
I 939> t0 the Department of the Interior. See the Report of the Chief of the Bureau of 
Biological Survey, 1938, pp. 26-31, for an account of "Research in Fur-Animal Conserva- 
tion and Utilization." 

^Sample publications of the Bureau are Farmers' Bulletins: The Maying and Feeding 
of Silage (578), Essentials of Animal Breeding (1167), Livestock^ for Small Farms (1753), 
Tuberculosis in Livestock (1069), Anthrax (1736), Country Hides and S\ins (1055), 
Bang's Disease (1704), Feeding Cattle for Beef (1549), Swine Production (1437), Feed- 
ing Horses (1030), Range Sheep Production (1710), and Farm Poultry Raising (1524). 

18 Market services, such as the administration of grades and standards for meat, milk, 
fruits, and vegetables, influence production. They facilitate increased production by giving 
confidence to the consumer in the identity of the commodity and the conditions under 
which it is processed, and they enable the farmer to aim at producing commodities of 
greatest commercial value. See below, pp. 160-90 S. 

17 Work designed to improve breeds of animals and plants is conducted in cooperation 
with the associations of breeders; the role of government may be played without coercion 
through the supply of an impartial service of registration and inspection, or it may in- 
clude the enforcement of statutory standards through its own as well as through licensed 
inspectors maintained by states and associations. For example, the National Poultry Im- 
provement Plan was administered by the Bureau of Animal Industry in cooperation with 
forty-three states in 1938. See Circular 317-M, Improving Poultry. 

18 Sample publications are Farmers' Bulletins: Dairy Herd Improvement Associations 
(1604), Dairy Cattle fudging (1769); Dairy Herd Improvement Association Letter; see 

ioo Department of Agriculture 

eases and pests has been carried on in the Bureaus of Plant, Animal, and 
Dairy Industry. Protection is also the function of the Bureau of En- 
tomology and Plant Quarantine, whose divisions in 1939 included the 
following : Insect Pest Survey and Information, Bee Culture, Cereal and 
Forage Insect Investigations, Cotton Insect Investigations, Domestic 
Plant Quarantines, Foreign Parasite Introduction, Foreign Plant Quar- 
antines, Forest Insect Investigations, Fruitfly Investigations, Gypsy and 
Brown-tail Moths Control, Insect Identification, Insecticide Investiga- 
tions, Japanese Beetle Control, Mexican Fruitfly Control, Pink Bollworm 
and Thurberia Weevil Control, Plant Disease Control, Screwworm Con- 
trol, and Truck Crop and Garden Insect Investigations. 19 Several of these 
divisions had their headquarters and staffs located in the area of infesta- 
tion. Contributing to the protection of production were activities of the 
Weather Bureau 20 located in the following divisions: Climate and Crop 
Weather, Fruit Frost Service, and Fire Weather Warning Service. 21 

Protective activities require a nice adjustment of research, collabora- 
tion and regulation, and delicate and extensive negotiations by the na- 
tional government not only with state governments and associations but 
also with foreign countries. Restrictions on trade designed to prevent 
the introduction of pests and disease are a constant temptation to interest 
groups desirous of prostituting ostensible public interests to capture 

also Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry, 1938, pp. 35-37, for publica- 
tions on Feeds and Nutrition, Breeding, Herd Management and Improvement, Milk and 
Cream, Chemistry and Bacteriology, Cheese and By-products. 

19 See, for example, the Service and Regulatory Announcement issued May, 1939, List 
of Intercepted Plant Pests, 1937 (p. 1), recording pests "intercepted in, on, or with plants 
and plant products entering United States Territory." "State and customs officials col- 
laborate with the Bureau and supplement routine reports of regular employees. Determina- 
tions of some of the commoner pests are made by inspectors familiar with them, but most 
of the insects are determined by specialists of the Bureau [of Entomology and Plant 
Quarantine] and most of the more difficult determinations of plant diseases are made or 
verified by specialists of the Bureau of Plant Industry. Staffs of specialists maintained by 
the States of California and Florida and the Territory of Hawaii make a large part of 
the determinations for interceptions at their ports." The total of insects intercepted was 
48,776; of diseases, 24,019. Note also the regularly issued mimeographed "Review of 
United States Patents Relating to Pest Control" by R. C. Roark of the Division of Insecticide 
Investigations. The Bureau issues a bimonthly list of Current Literature in Entomology; 
note also Price List 41 (33rd ed.) on "Insects" issued by the Superintendent of Documents, 
which lists publications in this field. 

20 Transferred to the Department of Commerce under Reorganization Order No. 4, 
April 11, 1940. 

21 The development of programs of crop insurance — confined at the time of this study to 
wheat — we discuss as aspects of distribution designed to give greater security of income 
to farmers and greater stability of supply to consumers, although they have a bearing on 
production factors also. See W. H. Rowe, "Crop Insurance for Wheat," Agricultural 
Finance Review, May, 1938, pp. 19-22, and "Progress of the Federal Wheat Crop Insurance 
Program," ibid., May, 1939; also R. T. Baggett, "The Application of Crop Insurance to 
Cotton," ibid., pp. 24-30. 

Production 101 

protected markets and may lead to retaliation. 22 The task of creating a 
public policy from varied materials is illustrated in seed legislation. In 
introducing a proposed "Federal Seed Act," Representative Coffee, 
speaking for the House Committee on Agriculture, remarked 23 

This bill is to regulate interstate and foreign commerce in seeds; to 
require labeling and to prevent misrepresentation of seeds in inter- 
state commerce; to require certain standards with regard to certain im- 
ported seeds and to curb the spread of noxious weed seeds. 

This bill is very important to the farmers of this country. It has gone 
through a stage of evolution over a period of 2 years. The bill as pre- 
sented represents the best thought of the seed trade, the farm groups, 
the association of official analysts, and the State departments of agricul- 
ture. This bill and its predecessors which I introduced have been before 
the House for the last 2 years. No attempt has been made to bring it 
before the House until the provisions of the bill could be generally 
agreed upon by the various groups affected. . . . 

I may say that the seed policy committee, appointed by the Secretary 
of Agriculture, which is composed of technically informed men who 
know the intricacies of the seed business, served for the last year and a 
half in helping to work out the provisions of this bill in various con- 
ferences with the legislative committee of the American Seed Trade 
and the various farm groups, seed analysts, State commissioners of 
agriculture, and others. . . . 

Sometimes, however, adjustment of interests is more difficult. On the 
same day that the Seed Act had its favorable reception in the House, 
Senator Schwellenbach of Washington attacked the Bureau of Entomol- 
ogy and Plant Quarantine for its administration of its regulatory powers 
as applied to the importation of bulbs from Holland. 24 He introduced 
a resolution calling for a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on 
Agriculture and Forestry to question the Secretary of Agriculture and 

22 Note, for example, the strained relations between the United States and the Argentine 
Republic over the failure of the United States Senate to confirm a treaty that would permit 
the application of quarantine regulations by provinces rather than the Argentine as a 
whole and thus allow entrance of beef from districts free from the application of our 
quarantine; note also Barriers to Internal Trade in Farm Products, especially the section 
on "Quarantines," pp. 85-97. 

^Congressional Record, June 7, 1939, pp. 9504-6. The Act is presented also, and the 
debate extends through p. 9516. 

^Ibid., June 7, 1939, pp. 9540-45. He returned to this topic on June 12 {ibid., pp. 
9837-39). Here is an illustration of the function of Congress in controlling the administra- 
tion of discretionary powers by a department through discussion and investigation. Be- 
hind such an incident, of course, is the clash of importers and dealers with growers. 
Senator Schwellenbach (Democrat) had been joined in this inquiry earlier by Senator 
McNary (Republican) of Oregon, as there are bulb growers in those two states; bulb- 
growing was a stronger factor than party affiliation. 

102 Department of Agriculture 

the Chief of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine about the 

This incident illustrates the fact that the Department's functions, even 
in the single field of protecting production, involved many conflicting 
interests each of which has a stake in the exercise of the Department's 
discretionary powers. Such discretion would seem to be unavoidable, 
however, when central factors in the problem are the highly specialized 
scientific studies required in order to obtain adequate knowledge of 
the pest or disease (including origins, transmission, effects, forms of 
defense), the rapidity with which a dangerous condition may appear 
and spread, and the need for rallying quickly a number of agencies in 
defense. The latter point is illustrated by the threat of insect damage to 
timber in New England after the hurricane in 1938, as well as by a 
debate in the House on May 2, 1938, on a resolution making funds 
available for warfare on various pests (especially grasshoppers) in the 
event of an outbreak. 25 


The study of equipment contributing to agricultural production was 
in 1939 carried on in the Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and En- 
gineering. 26 Among the divisions of the Bureau whose activities fell 
within this grouping were: Mechanical Equipment, Structures, Plans 
and Service, Farm Operating Efficiency Investigations, Cotton Ginning 
Investigations, Chemical Engineering Research, 27 and Fertilizer Re- 

25 Ibid., May 2, 1938, pp. 8037-38, and also mimeographed press release of the Depart- 
ment for December 15, 1938, "Quarantine Issued to Prevent Spread of White-fringed 
Beetle in Four Southern States," listing areas and materials subject to inspection and certi- 
fication requirements; also a mimeographed leaflet of the Bureau of Entomology and 
Plant Quarantine issued in November, 1938, "Prevention of Insect Damage to Wind- 
Thrown Timber in the New England States," by F. C. Craighead, Division of Forest 
Insect Investigations. 

26 Sample publications are Miscellaneous Publication, Plans of Farm Buildings for 
Northeastern States (278); Farmers' Bulletins: Clearing Land of Brush and Stumps (1526), 
Corncribs for the Corn Belt (1701), Principles of Dairy-Barn Ventilation (1393), Beef- 
Cattle Barns (1350), Farm Bul\ Storage for Small Grains (1636), Roof Coverings for 
Farm Buildings and Their Repair (1751), Use of Concrete on the Farm (1772), Rat 
Proofing Buildings and Premises (1638), Steam Sterilization of Soil for Tobacco and 
Other Crops (1629); Circulars: Suggestions for the Improvement of Old Ban\ Dairy 
Barns (166), Greenhouse Heating (254); Leaflets: Wind-Resistant Construction for 
Farm Buildings (87), Preventing Gin Damage to Cotton (169). 

27 In an address, "A National Program of Dust Explosion and Fire Prevention in Han- 
dling, Harvesting, Milling and Storing of Agricultural Products," before the Sixty-sixth 
Annual Conference of the International Association of Fire Chiefs at New Orleans, Sept- 
ember 27-30, 1938, David J. Price, Principal Engineer in Charge of this Division, remarked 
in conclusion, "The Department of Agriculture, through the Chemical Engineering Re- 
search Division of the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, is vitally interested in the study and 
investigation of all types of explosions and fires occurring in all sections of the United 

Production 103 

search. 28 The combination of two formerly separate bureaus into a single 
Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and Engineering (to which adminis- 
tration of four new regional agricultural-products laboratories was as- 
signed) marked the increasing emphasis on an older activity: research 
into "the more extensive and more profitable utilization of farm com- 
modities, the development of new products and the opening of new 
markets." 29 A similar function had long been performed for forestry 
by the Forest Products Laboratory of the Forest Service and the Division 
of Forest Products. The reorganization of the Department in 1938 re- 
sulted in the transfer of the soils activities of the Bureau of Chemistry 
and Soils to the Bureau of Plant Industry (although the Division of 
Fertilizer Research remained) . The new unit became an auxiliary service 
— to the Department generally — in chemistry and technology of en- 
gineering and construction. It also became responsible for the search for 
new uses of agricultural products occasioned by the market situation 
of the thirties. 


We have noted in our discussion of the Department's evolution the 
development of various adjustment programs. Indeed, we have empha- 
sized that the pouring out of the results of research on production 
problems had in itself had a kind of coercive effect upon the farmer. 
It led to the adoption of new methods in production affecting costs. 
We have noted also that the Department, during the World War, 
placed great emphasis on a program of increased production of various 
commodities. From the time of the first World War, American agri- 
culture was confronted with the need for readjusting to the conditions 
stimulated by the war and by postwar developments generally affecting 

The basic researches and services indicated above were continued and 

States in connection with the harvesting, handling, milling, processing, fumigating and 
storing of agricultural products. This work is carried on in cooperation with Agricultural 
Experiment Stations, State boards and commissions, farm organizations, fire departments, 
fire prevention and insurance associations and other organizations interested in explosion 
and fire prevention." (Mimeo. release) 

28 The allocation to the Department on July i, 1939, of the R.E.A. brought other activities 
relating to farm equipment on the productive as well as consumer side. 

29 See the mimeographed pamphlets issued by the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils: "Re- 
search — The Most Important Factor in the Conservation and Profitable Utilization of 
Farm Products, By-Products, Surpluses and of Our Soil Resources" (revised December 1, 
J 933)> "Results of 16 Years of Research — 1920-1936" (issued February 1, 1937), and 
"Economic Significance of the Research Program of the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils" 
(undated). See also The Naval Stores Station of the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, Misc. 
Pub. No. 206, August, 1934. 

104 Department of Agriculture 

expanded not only by the national government but also by the states. 
Increased attention was given to marketing as a means of adjusting 
farm production to disposal, and marketing problems inevitably inter- 
twined with production problems. In a sense the more basic questions 
of the goal of production and marketing were ignored in the past, partly 
because of the existence of markets overseas, by means of which earlier 
foreign loans to this country were repaid, and partly because of the rap- 
idly increasing population of the United States, which automatically 
expanded available markets. When the problem of adjustment to a 
changed market situation following the war expansion and postwar 
contraction became acute, 30 the process of individual adjustment through 
farm management or departure from the farm was supplemented by 
a search for a cure through cooperative marketing and other marketing 
practices. Recourse to collective production control followed as a possible 
means of a more orderly adjustment. Hence need arose for integrating 
production control policies with other aspects of land use and for more 
careful thought about the ultimate goals of production. We think that 
it is possible that these two by-products of the pressure for production 
control may, by focusing attention on land use and nutrition, eventually 
prove more important than the original parity-price objective of the 
leaders of the movement. 

Unique Organization Features of A. A. A. 

Production adjustment activities were, at the time of this study, the 
responsibility of the A.A.A. 31 It was headed by an Administrator re- 
sponsible to the Secretary of Agriculture and was served by the general- 
staff and auxiliary services of the Department. The internal organization 
had some unique features. 32 Regional aspects were reflected through five 
regional divisions (North East, North Central, East Central, Southern, 
Western) whose directors had their headquarters in Washington. On the 

30 Note, for example, D. F. Christy, "Government Aid to Wheat Producers," Foreign 
Agriculture, November, 1938, pp. 489-504, for a record of policies of foreign govern- 
ments designed to aid their wheat growers. 

^The report of the A.A.A. for the period from January 1, 1937, to June 30, 1938, 
Agricultural Adjustment — 1937-38, presents comprehensively the background of the 
problem, the legislation and the programs administered after 1933, the objectives as they 
evolved, effects on prices and income, influences on "long-time objectives of soil con- 
servation and efficient farming," market adjustments, and administration. Appendices 
include materials illustrative of soil-building practices and the extent of their adoption, 
disbursements, participation, market operations, and annotated legislation. The docu- 
ment is one of great value to the student of administration for its account of the 
evolution of policy and administration. 

32 See below, pp. 192-207, for a discussion of the A.A.A. in relation to problems of general 
economic policy, with special reference to consumer protection. 

Production 105 

state level were state conservation committees appointed by the Secre- 
tary of Agriculture and state offices clearing to the regional directors. 
On the county level the program was administered by county conserva- 
tion committees elected by members of county conservation associations 
composed of farmers participating in the program. 33 Within these county 
associations were local community associations and their elective com- 
mittees subordinate to the county committees. Although this farmer- 
participation feature is stressed in the Department as an experiment in 
"democracy in administration," the community as a whole, of which 
farmers are a part, is affected by decisions of this interest group — notably 
those on land use — that have a bearing on the tax base and the financing 
of local public services. 34 

Production Plans and Programs 

The evolution of the A.A.A. program, even within its brief existence, 
reflected an effort to move toward long-time objectives — partly stim- 
ulated by the necessities of constitutional law. At first emphasis was 
placed on the price of commodities in the national and international 
markets, on the income of a farmer to be derived from these prices and 
to be supplemented by various forms of subsidy, and on the effects of 
marketing agreements. Nevertheless, there was in 1939 discernible a 
shift in emphasis in adjustment from single-commodity treatment to a 
comprehensive farm-management program for each farm that would 
give greater consideration to land-use principles, including soil con- 
servation. The real driving force among farm groups, however, con- 
tinued to be the desire for subsidies or for any measures that would 
increase their financial returns. 

Production plans were implemented through national and state 
acreage allotments and goals. These divisions were broken down by 
county committees to the individual farm, which was allowed a 35 

soil-depleting acreage allotment . . . determined on the basis of good 
soil management, tillable acreage on the farm, type of soil, topog- 
raphy, degree of erosion, the acreage of all soil-depleting crops custom 

33 See Dale Clark, "The Farmer as Co-Administrator," Public Opinion Quarterly, July, 
!939> PP- 482-90; also F. F. Elliott, "We, the People. . . ," Land Policy Review, May- 
June, 1939, pp. 1-14. 

34 See Agricultural Adjustment — 1937-38, chap, viii, for a description of administra- 
tion of the A.A.A. in the period covered, which, it should be noted, is subsequent to 
the_ study by Nourse, Davis, and Black. See also below, pp. 192-225. 

fa "i939 Agricultural Conservation Bulletin," p. 9, sec. 5(a). Bulletins for the regions — 
North East, North Central, East Central, Southern, and Western — include more de- 
tailed provisions applicable to each region. 

106 Department of Agriculture 

arily grown on the farm, and in areas where the Administrator finds 
it applicable, the acreage of food and feed crops needed for home con- 
sumption on the farm, taking into consideration special crop acreage al- 
lotments determined for the farm. 

There were special crop-allotment provisions for cotton, corn, wheat, 
tobacco, potatoes, peanuts, rice, and commercial vegetables; provisions 
for restoration of lands to "permanent vegetative cover"; and definitions 
of "soil-building goals" in terms of practices to be followed by the farmer 
in return for soil conservation payments. These practices were adapted 
flexibly to regional and individual farm needs, including the planting 
of soil-conserving crops; the application of slag, lime, phosphate, and 
other beneficial and compensatory materials; terracing, ditching, and 
the construction of dams and reservoirs; planting of forest trees, restora- 
tion of woodlots; and various other devices. 

These provisions may be viewed as a compromise between the em- 
phasis on distribution of income to commodity producers and the need 
for improving farm-management practices in the light of land use and 
soil conservation. A frequent criticism of farm-relief production-control 
measures has been that they tend to "freeze" an existing land use in 
what may be inefficient ways at the cost of encouraging a "natural" 
evolution of commodity production on better-adapted lands and more 
efficient methods. Against this reasoning is the argument advanced for 
a more "orderly" liquidation of existing producers at an inefficient level 
by a process of gradual and flexible adjustment. Emphasis shifts from 
acreage allotment, on an historical base in terms of a particular com- 
modity, to a plan for each farm that stresses adaptation to best use, in- 
cluding security of soil fertility. Obviously, the execution of this program 
would be difficult in so vast a country of divergent regional and local 
conditions, including the differences in financial resources of individual 
farmers. Equally evident is the importance of the administrative task of 
the local community and county committees, and of the integration of 
their work with that of state committees, regional directors, and national 
officials. 36 The effort to adjust one commodity to its market by a re- 
duction of acreage may invite encouragement of expansion of another 
commodity, the producers of which will press for counter-measures, as 
illustrated by the efforts of dairy regions to prevent the assignment of 
surplus acreage in cotton, corn, and wheat areas to dairying. 

36 See on the county agent M. A. McCall, "The Relation of the National Agricultural Pro- 
gram to Agronomic Betterment," Journal of the American Society of Agronomy, March, 
1938, and Nourse, Davis, and Black, op. cit., pp. 358-59- 

Production 107 

Refocusing the Adjustment Program 

In 1934 a Division of Program Planning was instituted within the 
A.A.A. to give attention to policies and long-time programs — a difficult 
task for the hard-pressed operating officials. Howard Tolley, whose 
earlier career in the Department has been noted, was made Chief of this 
Division; when he was appointed Administrator, F. F. Elliott, 37 also a 
career agricultural economist, succeeded to the post; the Division was 
merged in 1939 with the reorganized B.A.E., a general-star? agency of 
research and planning. In attacking the long-time objectives of adjust- 
ment the Division undertook analyses of domestic and export require- 
ments of the United States in agricultural products; resulting national 
and regional farm resources for meeting these requirements; and re- 
quirements in crops that would be best adapted to the land, including 
provision for soil conservation. Experimental counties were also estab- 
lished in which was permitted a greater flexibility of adjustment of land 
use by farmers participating in A.A.A. programs within the regional 
regulations. This experiment permitted a shift in acreage allotments from 
the "historical base" to a better land-use base for farm-management plans. 
By these analyses it was possible to clarify production needs and goals in 
the light of consumption needs and of the best land use. By means of 
the experimental counties it was possible to translate both objectives into 
farm-management plans for each individual farm through the initiative 
of its operator and the cooperation of the county committee. 

Thus, a program arising out of pressures aimed at influencing prices 
and at the distribution of income may be refocused to influence pro- 
duction toward public objectives of best land-use and consumer needs. 
The extent of this shift as against the continuance, creation, and protec- 
tion of inefficient, uneconomic types of farming defended by political 
strength is much debated. Always present is the more abstract issue of 
liquidation through the market and foreclosure as against more gradual 
processes of government aid to retraining, resettlement, and re- 
employment. These processes, of course, must also depend upon avail- 
ability of employment opportunities outside of farming. 38 

Opinions About the Program 

A view favorable to the A.A.A. will be found in a discussion of "The 
Relation of the National Agricultural Program to Agronomic Better- 
ment," by M. A. McCall, Principal Agronomist in Charge of the Di- 

37 See his article, "We, The People. . . ," Land Policy Review, May-June, 1939, pp. 
1-14, for an account of the evolution of the planning program. 

^See the claims of the A.A.A. on this point in Agricultural Adjustment — 1937-38, 
chap. vi. 

108 Department of Agriculture 

vision of Cereal Crops and Diseases and Assistant Chief of the Bureau 
of Plant Industry. 39 The author records the detachment of most agron- 
omists from the earlier aspects of the A.A.A. program but notes the 
acceptance of improved farm practices facilitated by the shift in emphasis 
to soil conservation and land use. He summarizes the effects in soil- 
building crops and practices, such as the use of lime and fertilizers. He 
also observes : 40 

As a result of the A.A.A. program, every important agricultural 
county in the United States now has a county agent. The farm people 
of each county have come to know and to rely upon their agent and to 
use his services as never before. The number of his contacts and his 
effectiveness have been immeasurably increased because of the pro- 
gram. This must in the end have a profound effect upon agronomic 

Another most significant development is the County Agricultural 
Conservation Association with its county-planning committee. This 
committee in each county is charged with administering the program 
and with working out through community committees a balanced soil- 
building and cropping program for the county, which in turn must be 
based on a soundly developed plan for each farm. In some states sub- 
stantial progress already has been made in farm planning and produc- 
tivity surveys, which ultimately are certain to be strongly influential 
in building a sound agriculture. These county committees should 

™ Journal of the American Society of Agronomy, March, 1938. Note, however, the less 
favorable but earlier views expressed by Nourse, Davis, and Black, op. cit. Their views 
were based, of course, upon the earlier years of the A.A.A. See especially chap, xii, 
"Effects Upon Farm Management and the Organization of Agriculture," also pp. 472, 
485, and 493, also pp. 472-73: "In practice, the program has taken on such a character, 
particularly through its definition of the basis of payment, as places minor emphasis 
on true agricultural adjustment and major emphasis on disbursing a very large amount 
of money to the maximum number of farmers. Such a general dissemination of govern- 
ment payments causes them to go to many persons who are not thereby helped to 
effect true adjustment or to those who are caught in situations which are not promptly 
adjustable. To those who have neither of these economically valid claims to continuing 
aid, the payments take on the character of a political 'hand-out' and tend to create 
vested interests which will stand in the way of sound economic development of the 
industry in the future." This study by Nourse, Davis, and Black is of great value to the 
student of administration for its account (as of 1933-36) of the factors affecting the 
evolution of A.A.A. policy (especially pp. 78—92) and of organizations (note the charts 
on pp. 55, 58, and 68) and administration (chaps, iii and ix), including appraisals of 
personnel, integration with the Department, planning, pressure groups, land -use aspects, 
and many other important questions. It is particularly useful in view of the subsequent 
evolution of the AAA. and if read in connection with the recent report of the Adminis- 
trator of the A.A.A., Agricultural Adjustment — 1937-38. Harold B. Rowe's association 
with the preparation of both documents is doubtless one cause of their value for com- 
parable studies. 

40 Op. cit., p. 178. See also J. A. Hitchcock, A Study of the Operation of the 1936 Soil 
Conservation Program in Vermont (Bull. 413, Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station, 
March, 1937) and K. J. Nicholson, "Forerunners of Unified Programs," Land Policy 
Review, May-June, 1939, pp. 31-36. 

Production 109 

become increasingly important in the agricultural set-up in each state. 
They should become a most effective link in the chain of agronomic 

Other examples of the effects of A.A.A. impacts on agronomic better- 
ment doubtless could be pointed out. Enough has been indicated 
through the foregoing somewhat superficial survey to show, however, 
that the A.A.A. has contributed, and is contributing, in a very sub- 
stantial way to advancements in soil conservation and crop practice. 
It is without question a most potent force for implementing soil and 
crop science. It adds a new element to the previously existing set-up of 
the state experiment stations, the extension services, and the research 
bureaus of the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Most of us have failed to 
realize the real necessity for this new element. We have prided our- 
selves that agronomy is so necessary and so universal that we and our 
work are removed from the fields of controversy that rage round all 
economic problems. In reality these notions have been "delusions of 
grandeur." Sound agronomy is dependent on and cannot be separated 
from sound, stablized economics. Combining the two, the A.A.A. pro- 
gram carries a challenge we cannot aVoid. 

Critics of the A.A.A. program hold that Mr. McCall's appraisal pre- 
sents a too favorable view. They hold that whatever stimulus and support 
have been given to the Extension Service have been more than balanced 
by the great amount of additional work placed upon the Service and, 
what is more important, by its diversion from its older functions. 41 We 
are more concerned, however, with the issue that centers in the role of 
the administrator in production policies. The critics hold that the A.A.A. 
has attempted to evade the unfavorable decision of the Supreme Court 
by attaining the same goal of production restriction in the name of 
soil conservation. 42 Payments to farmers, the argument runs, have been 
determined by the pressure of raisers of commodities that are in the 

41 For valuable discussions of these questions see Gladys Baker, The County Agent 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939) and Lord, The Agrarian Revival. Miss 
Baker summarizes (pp. 69-101) the contributions made to the Extension Service, its 
participation in the New Deal programs, and concludes with some general observations 
ending with the statement, "The depression experience of the county agent and the new 
national agricultural policy seem to require a reorientation of his work." 

42 This issue is discussed in "Soil Conservation — Its Place in National Agricultural 
Policy," issued by the A.A.A. in May, 1936, and prepared by Bushrod W. Allin of its 
Program Planning Division. It is pointed out (p. 25) that "on October 25, 1935, more than 
2 months before the decision, the President said concerning the Agricultural Adjustment 
Act that 'it never was the idea of the men who framed the act, of those in Congress who 
revised it, nor of Henry Wallace nor Chester Davis that the Agricultural Adjustment 
Administration should be either a mere emergency operation or a static agency. It was 
their intention — as it is mine — to pass from the purely emergency phases necessitated by a 
grave national crisis to a long-time, more permanent plan for American agriculture.' " 
The quotation from President Roosevelt was taken from his statement made at the 
signing of the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act. 

no Department of Agriculture 

surplus group rather than by the soil conservation requirements of 
specific farms. While it is generally admitted that a soil conservation 
interest was present in the program prior to the decision in the Hoosac 
Mills case, any soil conservation objectives are distorted, it is argued, 
by the more powerful interest of farmers for any kind of financial sub- 

Interest Groups and the Program 

The course of policy and of administrative action on this program may 
well be observed by political scientists because of the light that may 
be thrown upon the complex subject of interest representation or upon 
the corporate state. Interest groups are here frankly brought into the 
open and associated (as also in certain of the marketing and other pro- 
grams) with the Department's agencies through elected committees. 
But the interest groups have already been reflected in the original legis- 
lation, which is only a part, in fact, of the larger pattern of the nation's 
political economy. The provision of public assistance to industry through 
tariffs, for example, inevitably has stimulated the demand for assistance 
to farmers. But a policy that helps one group of farmers may injure an- 
other. Variations of area, climate, commodity, economic status, and 
ability are endless. 

Where is the common denominator of a common public benefit and 
objective to be found? How can the insistent pressure of the many 
contending groups be so adjusted that a maximum of discoverable pub- 
lic benefit, and a minimum of discoverable public injury, may be ob- 
tained ? What kind of personnel and what kind of procedure are most 
conducive to this objective? Will the formal placement of responsibilities 
on the representatives of the vocational group, associated with the proper 
type of civil servant and directed ultimately by the chief responsible 
political official, be a means of reconciling objectives related to national 
and international markets, on the one hand, and the best land use for 
most farms, on the other? The deeper issues of the extent to which 
there should be public intervention in industry, commerce, and agri- 
culture are brought to a sharper focus by the debate over the program. 
The student of administration can at least analyze, in his own region 
and in concrete situations, how the program operates in detail through 
national, state, and local instruments. 43 

43 For an even-tempered discussion of some of the larger and more fundamental aspects 
of the question of public intervention in agriculture for encouraging soil conservation see 
George Dykhuizen, Soil Conservation, A Philosopher's Viewpoint, Circ. No. 97, Vermont 
Agricultural Extension Service, Burlington, 1938; Walter W. Wilcox, "Measures Needed to 

Production in 

The Ultimate Question of Goals 

Our survey of the Department's production activities has led us to 
the ultimate question of its goals. Most immediately, and from the view- 
point of the producer, these activities have finally extended to efforts to 
adjust production to the estimated available markets — a goal toward 
which the way has been uncertain since the World War. We have noted 
briefly the more immediate development of the adjustment policy toward 
an increased stress on land-use aspects. The logic of our classification 
of the Department's activities leads to a consideration of its work in 
marketing and of the question of the distribution of all goods and serv- 
ices by the nation, including the exchange of its goods and services with 
other nations. These inquiries, stimulated as well by the problem of 
relief for the unemployed and destitute, lead to a more conscious atten- 
tion to questions of diet, nutrition, and standards of living generally. 

These important issues are so easily obscured in the dust and heat of 
contemporary party, pressure group, and sectional struggles that per- 
haps reference to appraisals by two foreign observers who are studying 
soil erosion throughout the world will help to place the American situ- 
ation in a larger context. In discussing the economic causes and conse- 
quences of soil erosion 44 they remark : 

The Agricultural Adjustment Act in the United States illustrates some 
of the ways in which world-wide nationalism is forcing a country to 
adopt a conservation policy against the opposition of vested interests 
and contrary to the national temperament. The refusal of the United 
States to take payment in goods from their debtors and the high 
tariffs imposed by, and the poverty of, the debtors caused an enormous 
drop in agricultural exports in the decade following the war. . . . 
How far the Act has succeeded in contracting crop acreages and pro- 
duction is difficult to estimate, for since its inception drought has been 
far more effective in that way than the Act. The Act was conceived 
as an economic palliative and not as a soil-conserving measure, but its 
potentialities in the latter direction are now recognized, and the 
Agricultural Adjustment Administration is coordinating its activities 
with those of the Soil Conservation Service. The Administration em- 
phasizes the importance of substituting for productive soil-exhausting 
crops, whose acreage is being restricted, less productive soil-conserving 
crops like grass and legumes. Every encouragement is given to farmers 

Achieve Conservation and Efficient Production," Journal of Farm Economics, November, 
I 939> PP- 864-70; and, on the soil conservation emphasis as compared with income 
objectives, J. K. Galbraith, "Permanent Aspects of Supply and Price Adjustment in 
Agriculture," ibid., p. 872. 

44 Jacks and Whyte, Vanishing Lands (New York: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 
1939), p. 226 and pp. 227-28. 

ii2 Department of Agriculture 

to practice positive soil conservation wherever they are debarred by 
human or superhuman forces from soil exploitation. The AAA is a 
small beginning, inadequate in its results, opposed and partially 
wrecked by more numerous and powerful interests than supported it, 
contrary to the canons of orthodox economics, and irritating to 
American individualism. Within two years, drought largely achieved 
the AAA's object of eliminating farm surpluses, and apparently re- 
moved the need for government interference. 

But if drought has been more successful than legislation, it is even 
less popular and reliable. It removed one economic obstacle to re- 
covery, but it exposed and intensified other more fundamental obstacles 
to lasting prosperity and security. While the AAA was being con- 
demned as futile, costly and un-American, dust storms were proclaim- 
ing that agricultural adjustment must be persevered with and intensi- 
fied, not for its original purpose of preventing wheat being burnt by 
not growing it, but in one form or another as the only sure basis of a 
national soil-conservation policy. The AAA was a shot in the dark, 
designed to prevent the conversion of soil capital into goods unwanted 
by a nationalist world; it has come to stay and to develop as an 
instrument for conserving soil capital whether or not the old opportuni- 
ties for unlimited exploitation return. 

These comments serve to indicate the complexity of the issues of the 
adjustment policies that are so sensitively interlocked with every aspect 
of national and international institutions and relationships. 

Furthermore, increased attention to problems of diet and nutrition 
evidences the search for more objective and socially desirable criteria for 
production standards. Hence, not only the A.A.A. but also the Bureau of 
Home Economics must be included in the agencies of the Department 
charged with responsibility for production adjustment. Louise Stanley, 
Chief of the Bureau, states : 45 

The Bureau of Home Economics has a unique responsibility in the 
Department's efforts toward conservation and development of human 
resources. It alone, of the several bureaus, focuses its entire program of 
research upon the achievement of this end. It strives to determine hu- 
man needs for food, clothing, housing, and the many other goods and 
services that are part of our national standard of living. It endeavors to 
find how to use the Nation's resources most effectively in meeting these 
needs and in increasing human satisfaction. 

Thus in working toward conservation of human values, the Bureau 
also serves as a link between the producer, both in agriculture and in- 
dustry, and the consumer. The science of production depends for its 
ultimate efficacy upon the development of the science and the art of 
consumption. And the only measuring stick for the success of both 
production and consumption is their contribution to human values. 

45 Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Home Economics, September i, 1938, p. 1. 

Production 113 

The Bureau's research on nutrition, 46 on the relation of diet to income, 
as well as on consumption patterns generally, brings a consumer ap- 
proach to problems of production the importance of which is not con- 
fined alone to agriculture, to the Department of Agriculture, or to rural 
life. Here again, aspects of production are interwoven with distribution 
and consumption and tie into activities of the Departments of Commerce 
and Labor, the Federal Security Agency, and the National Resources 
Planning Board. 

The discussion of the Department's production activities conveys at 
least the range of subject matter covered and indicates the high degree 
of specialization characterizing scientific research and its application. 
Each farmer, making for himself a series of decisions about his own 
farm, must coordinate what he can obtain of the available knowledge 
of use to him. Each of his production factors presents its own problem 
peculiar to that one farm, and together they constitute its ecology; soil, 
climate, topography, seeds, livestock, methods of preparing and cultivat- 
ing the soil, and the farmer's implements and buildings must be syn- 
thesized best to achieve his goals of products to be consumed at home and 
to be marketed. That synthesis must include practices by means of which 
he will either obtain soil conservation and other payments or avoid 
penalties for failure to keep the rules of a marketing agreement. He must 
also adjust his program to credit charges on his capital investment and 
the financing of his crop, to transportation factors, and to the presence 
or absence of electric power for refrigeration or milking-machine op- 

The county agent's role in informing the farmer of the best knowledge 
available on these matters is extremely important. Behind the county 
agent are the state extension service headquarters, with its specialists, and 
the state agricultural experiment station, through which problems pe- 
culiar to the agriculture of a particular state may be explored and general 
agricultural research brought to a focus. Policies also affecting the farm 
are made beyond the fences : policies connected with local public house- 
keeping services, such as drainage or irrigation, which the farmer shares 
with fellow farmers; with roads, schools, and relief; with state services; 
and with functions of the national government. 

^Sample publications are Circulars: Diets of Families of Employed Wage Earners and 
Clerks in Cities (507), Food Consumption of Children at the National Child Research 
Center (481); The Chemical Composition of American Food Materials. 

H4 Department of Agriculture 

E. C. Auchter, Chief of the Bureau of Plant Industry, discussing the 
relation of soil research to goals of production as bearing on nutri- 
tional standards, says, "The unity of nature no less than its complexity 
is important, and the time has come when we shall have to pay more 
attention to this unity without neglecting the advantages of specializa- 
tion." 47 He emphasizes the parallel developments in the science of 
nutrition both for plants and for animals and suggests that agricultural 
scientists should give more attention to the production of crops with the. 
highest nutritional quality. One step, he says, is through research; a 
thorough study of our soils would indicate which areas are suitable 
or unsuitable for the production of food, the production of crops for 
industrial purposes, or for forests. The results of such a study, he states, 
might be either that only certain crops would be grown where the 
soil was suitable or that the essential although deficient elements would 
be added so that the people dependent upon crops in those areas would 
have food of high nutritional quality. 

Thus we see that the many activities of the Department affecting pro- 
duction and the goals of production require the most careful integration 
if distortion is to be avoided. Here, in fact, is the crucial administrative 
problem of the Department, especially in view of developments be- 
tween 1920 and 1940: the Department has increasingly become a factor 
directly affecting the economic forces that condition farm management. 
Its activities require a continuing appraisal, despite the specialization 
characteristic of scientific research and research workers. They must be 
integrated with the program and resources of each state and with the 
local area in the light of circumstances peculiar to it. Finally, they must 
be made intelligible and of use to the individual farmer, who is always 
subject to the requirements of a biological industry dependent on natural 
factors of the life cycles of soil, plants, animals, and seasons and to de- 
structive risks from weather, insects, and disease. The Department's 
production function is interwoven with the function of marketing and 
with the larger question of distribution; it must be visualized in concrete 
terms of land use and of the general conditions of rural life. 

47 "The Interrelation of Soils and Plant, Animal and Human Nutrition," Science, May 
12, 1939, pp. 421-27. Also see below, p. 221. 

Chapter 8 

The nucleus of the most significant group of the Department's 
activities is land utilization. Since even the use of this term is 
so new as to emphasize the emergence of such a cluster of 
programs, something of its scope may well be indicated. Narrowly con- 
ceived, it might refer to any activity related to land and thus might 
refer back to the time when man first scratched the soil. The application 
of the physical sciences to land, more properly known as agronomy, 
influenced land use, and from agronomy, as we have seen, farm man- 
agement was an important development. 1 The terms "land use" and 
"land utilization," however, embrace the contributions of the social as 
well as the physical sciences. The Secretary in his 1938 report describes 
the scope of this field. 2 

There are no separate problems of forestry, of wildlife conservation, 
of grazing, of soil conservation, and of rational crop adjustment. 
There is one unified land use problem, of which forestry, grazing, 
crop adjustment, and so forth are merely aspects. This problem in- 
volves the whole pattern of soil, climate, topography, and social 
institutions; it has to do with social and economic conditions, as well 
as with the physical problems of crop, livestock, and timber produc- 
tion, and of soil and water conservation. Research and action pro- 
grams must fit together, and come into a dynamic focus on the farm 
and on the watershed. Equally important, they must mesh with 
urban policy. Not otherwise can we attain the full efficient use, in 
town and country, of all our human and material resources. 

The Department has long engaged in activities related to a land- 
utilization program, such as forestry and wildlife conservation. Never- 
theless, the conception of the interrelationship of programs affecting 
the soil and of the socio-political forces of the nation, and even of the 
world, gives content to the term "land use" : it implies a comprehensive 
national land-use policy. The administrative problems associated with 
the coordination of these activities arise not only from the number and 
extent of separate programs but also from the historical forces that at a 

1 For the origin of the Office of Farm Management in the Bureau of Plant Industry see 
above, p. 35. 

^Report of the Secretary of Agriculture, 1938, p. 59. 


n6 Department of Agriculture 

given time have compelled such coordination. Familiarity with these 
forces will contribute to an understanding of current problems; there- 
fore the more important events related to national land-use policies 
will be reviewed. 


Historically the land program of the national government has been 
based fundamentally upon statutes enacted to meet specific situations. 
As early research projects were related to particular diseases, pests, or 
plants, so land programs were developed to meet particular public- 
domain problems. By and large, the administration of public lands was 
based upon the assumption that the wisest use of those lands would 
result from their most rapid distribution to private ownership. This 
concept was akin to the philosophy of democracy nurtured by the 
Revolution and supported by the abundance of unoccupied public lands. 
During the nation's infancy two powerful schools of thought developed 
about the public domain. Alexander Hamilton and John Quincy Adams 
represented a strong conservative group in the East that advocated the 
use of public lands as a source of revenue for the national government 
and for the development of internal improvements. Thomas Jefferson 
spoke for those who believed that ownership of land by all, or at least 
by a majority, of the people was the best guarantee of a continuing 
democracy. Those most sympathetic to the Jeffersonian view were the 
frontier settlers; yet behind a veil of philosophical idealism their real 
motive was the procurement of land at the lowest possible cost. 

Associated with the spirit of revolutionary democracy were two funda- 
mental concepts of property that have markedly influenced public and 
private lands in America. The first was the right of every man to hold 
real property in fee simple absolute, or the implicit right to do with 
his property as he saw fit. The second — a reaction from primogeniture 
and entail — was the principle of equal distribution of estates among the 
heirs. The first concept permitted speculation, excessive debts, frequent 
transfer of titles, migration, and tenancy. The second concept, based 
upon standardized philosophical concepts, was applied indiscriminately 
to vastly different ecological regions, resulting in uneconomic subdi- 
visions, a scattered small-field system in some areas, tenancy, and oc- 
casionally, although contrary to early belief, in the building up of large 
estates. 3 

8 A valuable article by Karl Brandt, "Public Control of Land Use in Europe," Journal of 
Farm Economics, February, 1939, pp. 57-71, is particularly useful in indicating the 

Land Use 117 

Legislation Encouraging Private Ownership 

From 1787 to 1862 the conservative East and the frontier battled 
over the disposal of the public domain. The East looked upon the 
opening of the West as a threat to land values at home; the West was 
hungry for land. Steadily, however, the influence of the settler grew 
stronger and he was able to win increased concessions. The land law 
of 1796 set for public land a minimum price of two dollars per acre in 
units of 640 acres. The prospective purchaser was thus confronted with 
a relatively high total cost. Hence, in 1800 the size of the unit was 
reduced to 320 acres; in 1804, to 160 acres. Following the panic year of 
1 8 19 the settler succeeded not only in having the minimum price re- 
duced to $1.25 per acre but also in having the size of the unit fixed 
at 80 acres. By the Land Act of 1820 existing settlers could also have 
title to that portion of their holdings representing the amount of money 
already paid on their contracts. In order to prevent a recurrence of such 
action, the existing credit system was abolished. In 1841 the Preemption 
Act was passed legalizing the fait accompli of squatters and others who 
without legal right occupied and enjoyed lands in the public domain. 
Many of the western communities had already accorded a preferential 
status to these squatters. 

Another victory for the West came in 1854 when legislation authorized 
the scaling down of land prices in proportion to the time such land 
had been on the market without a purchaser. Finally, after the secession 
of the South the supporters of freeholding had complete control in 
Congress and in 1862 passed the Homestead Act. This Act offered to 
the settler a quarter section, or 160 acres, free of cost except for incon- 
sequential fees, after five years' residence on, or cultivation of, the land. 
It provided further that the homesteader at his option could at any time 
within the five-year period preempt title to the land by payment of the 
regular price. It should be repeated here that in the same year that 
Congress passed the Homestead Act it also created the Department of 
Agriculture and enacted the Morrill Act. 4 Under the latter Act the 
states were granted areas of public land, apportioned according to the 
number of senators and representatives in Congress; the proceeds from 

"relatively uniform trend" among European nations "in attitudes toward land use control." 
Mr. Brandt points out that, while private property in land has nowhere been abolished, 
nevertheless "private property in its absolute sense of fee simple and the manifold impli- 
cations of jus abutendi in its perfection, as it still exists in the United States and in the 
New World in general, has not survived in the great majority of European countries." 
4 See above, p. 6. 

n8 Department of Agriculture 

the sale of this land were to constitute an inviolable fund to be invested 
for the support and maintenance of at least one college 5 

where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific 
and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such 
branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic 
arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the states may respectively 
prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of 
the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life. 

Further distribution of lands from the public domain was made. In 
1849-50, for example, the portions of the public domain comprising 
swamp lands were transferred to the states within which they were 
located, but the states were to use the proceeds from these lands to 
reclaim them for future occupancy by individual settlers. Vast areas of 
the public domain were also transferred to promoters and large corpora- 
tions in order to advance the development of internal improvements — 
particularly railroads and other transportation facilities. "During the 
1850's and i86o's there passed into the hands of western railroad pro- 
moters and builders a total of 158,293,000 acres, an area almost equalling 
that of the New England States, New York, and Pennsylvania com- 
bined." 6 

Private Ownership Speeded by Land Frauds 

The transfer of public lands to private ownership proceeded at high 
speed; the pace was even more rapid than had been anticipated by those 
supporting a liberal land policy. Not only had pressure groups been 
eminently successful in having legislation drafted or altered to their 
advantage, but also individuals and organized groups practiced whole- 
sale frauds with or without the color of law. Many persons believed 
or contended that land exploited for their individual profit contributed 
to the general prosperity. So general was this idea that those who most 
successfully exploited the land were considered public benefactors. It 
is pertinent to refer here to Frederick Jackson Turner's observations on 
the frontier influence on the American intellect: 7 

That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitive- 
ness, that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients, 

5 July 2, 1862, sec. 4, 12 Stat. L. 504; March 3, 1883, 22 Stat. L. 484; April 13, 1926, 
44 Stat. L. 247; 7 U.S.C., sec. 304. See also above, p. 6. 

6 B. H. Hibbard, "Land Grants," Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. IX, p. 35. 

7 Everett E. Edwards (compiler), Early Writings of Frederic^ ]ac\son Turner (Madison: 
University of Wisconsin Press, 1938), p. 227. 

Land Use 119 

that masterful grasp of material tilings, lacking in the artistic but 
powerful to effect great ends, that restless, nervous energy, that 
dominant individualism, working for good and for evil, and withal 
that buoyancy and exuberance which comes with freedom, these are 
traits of the frontier, or traits called out elsewhere because of the 
existence of the frontier. 

Those who would acquire large holdings contrary to the spirit of 
the law found means of doing so. Under the Homestead Act, for 
example, corporations could acquire large areas through the expedient 
of having their employees enter patents as individuals and then, after 
* acquiring title by preemption, reconvey the lands to the corporation; 
the corporations also acquired property by using the land as desired, 
without exercising the right of preemption, and thereafter allowing the 
patents to lapse. The Timber and Stone Act of 1878 8 really turned out 
to be a convenient legal procedure for the transfer of public timber to 
private ownership. Individuals were authorized to acquire 160 acres of 
land, valuable chiefly for timber but unfit for cultivation, at a minimum 
cost of $2.50 per acre. This Act, like the Homestead Act, was freely 
abused. Through misrepresentation by dummy entrymen thousands of 
acres of the most valuable timber land were acquired, and most of it was 
completely cut over. 

Inadequacies of the Land Laws 

The dramatic boldness and the extent of land frauds, more than 
anything else, compelled a realization of the inadequacies of land laws. 9 
It was the failure of the laws to meet the conditions of diverse regional 
ecologies that first gave rise to evasions. The series of enactments 
culminating in the Homestead Act were calculated not only to facilitate 
the acquisition of land holdings by the settlers but also to prevent the 
type of land speculation that thrived under the older, large-scale sales 

8 20 Stat. L. 89, sec. i. 

9 For a valuable account of land legislation before, during, and immediately after the 
Civil War period see Arnold Tilden, The Legislation of the Civil-War Period Considered as 
a Basis of the Agricultural Revolution in the United States (Los Angeles: University of 
Southern California Press, 1937). In conclusion Tilden makes the following statement 
(p. 150): "To recapitulate, it may be said that the legislation succeeded in depriving 
the government of the United States and the people it represented of almost unlimited 
wealth in the form of natural resources, that it led to the rapid exhaustion of agricultural 
and forest lands and the wastage of the other natural resources of the country, that it 
contributed to the political and business dishonesty so prevalent in the United States, 
that it ruined the most fundamental class of producers in the nation, that it continued 
and pushed forward a policy of robbery and murder in order to deprive the Indians 
of that which had been solemnly guaranteed to them, and, finally, that it contributed 
greatly to the forces that destroyed the practicability of the economic system under which 
the United States had, from its inception, been organized." 

120 Department of Agriculture 

policy. In the Mississippi Valley the size of units could be severely re- 
stricted without serious disadvantage to the homesteader. Most of this 
land, because of soil and moisture conditions, could profitably be con- 
verted to agricultural uses, even in small parcels. As the frontier was 
pushed farther west, however, it embraced the vast low-rainfall and 
rich timber areas, the use, to say nothing of the exploitation, of which 
required holdings much larger than was legally permitted. Those who 
would engage in the cattle or timber industries were thus compelled 
to evade the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. Such evasions became 
generally recognized as necessary to the use of certain areas and were 
widely condoned. Enforcement of the land laws became impossible. 
During the autumn of 1875 President Grant visited the territories 
of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. On the basis of his observations he 
included in his seventh annual message to Congress a discussion of the 
arid lands. He pointed out that land suitable only for cultivation after 
artificial irrigation or for use as pasturage could not be governed by 
laws adapted to areas "every acre of which is an independent estate by 
itself." Such lands needed to be held in larger quantities than the law 
permitted if the expense of irrigating them for cultivation or pasturage 
were to be justified. President Grant explained that existing legislation 
did not permit the acquisition or use of timber in the territories. As an 
indication of how widespread were evasions of the land laws, he stated, 
"The settler must become a consumer of this timber, whether he lives 
upon the plain or engages in working the mines. Hence every man 
becomes either a trespasser himself or knowingly a patron of trespassers." 
The President's recommendation to the Congress was that it set up a 
joint committee of both houses; after visiting the western territories, 
the joint committee should report recommendations for such laws and 
amendments as it deemed expedient. In conclusion he hinted at the 
futility of attempting to enforce the existing statutes, saying that he 
was sure that "the citizens occupying the territory described do not wish 
to be trespassers, nor will they be if legal ways are provided for them to 
become owners of these actual necessities of their position." 10 Three 
years later Major }. W. Powell, in his report on the arid region, cor- 
roborated President Grant: 11 

The timber lands cannot be acquired by any of the methods provided 
in the preemption, homestead, timber culture, and desert land laws, 
10 James D. Richardson v Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 (1898), Vol. 

vii, pp. 355-56. 

"Powell, op. cit., pp. 27-28. 

Land Use 121 

from the fact that they are not agricultural lands. Climatic conditions 
make these methods inoperative. Under these laws "dummy entries" 
are sometimes made. A man wishing to obtain the timber from a 
tract of land will make homestead or preemption entries by himself 
or through his employes without intending to complete the titles, 
being able thus to hold these lands for a time sufficient to strip them 
of their timber. 

This is thought to be excusable by the people. of the country, as timber 
is necessary for their industries and the timber lands cannot honestly 
be acquired by those who wish to engage in timber enterprises. Pro- 
vision should be made by which the timber can be purchased by 
persons or companies desiring to engage in the lumber or wood 
business, and in such quantities as may be necessary to encourage the 
construction of mills, the erection of flumes, the making of roads, 
and other improvements necessary to the utilization of the timber for 
the industries of the country. 

Attempts to Relate Laws to Geography 

In response to this general situation Congress passed the Desert 
Land Act in 1877. 12 Under this Act desert lands could be acquired in 
tracts as large as 640 acres by the payment of twenty-five cents an 
acre, by the filing of a declaration of intention to reclaim the land, and 
within three years thereafter by the furnishing of proof of compliance 
and by the payment of an additional dollar per acre. Unfortunately, 
the intent of this Act was also flagrantly violated, for under it many 
people got the use of grazing land for three years without any real 
intention of reclaiming it for permanent use. A comparable act had 
been passed two years earlier but was applicable only to desert lands 
in Lassen County, California. 13 Major Powell, in his report, maintained 
that pasturage farms in the arid lands should contain a minimum of 
four square miles in order to be of any practical value. He recommended 
specific legislation not only to permit the existence of units of this size 
but also to provide for the organization of pasturage districts "in which 
the residents should have the right to make their own regulations for 
the division of the lands, the use of the water for irrigation and for 
watering the stock, and for the pasturage of the lands in common or in 
severalty." 14 Had these recommendations been adopted at that time, 

^19 Stat. L. 377. 

13 1 8 Stat. L. 497. 

14 Op. cit., p. 28. To students of public administration the efforts of Major Powell illus- 
trate a basic problem of public planning. Planning, to be acted upon, must be in tune 
with the ideology of the time. When it is not, however, efforts such as those of Major 
Powell are none the less important. Indeed, they contribute to the development of a 
"public" that will receive and support such efforts at a later date. 

122 Department of Agriculture 

the use of the arid lands would have been so altered as to obviate the 
necessity for many later governmental programs. 

In addition to recognizing the inapplicability of the same land 
legislation to the whole country, many who had condoned evasions of 
the laws saw that these evasions were being extended farther than they 
had anticipated. Beyond the acquisition of holdings large enough to 
make cattle and timber operations possible, some had successfully ac- 
cumulated vast areas for intensive exploitation. The prospective settler, 
because choice lands had been accumulated in large holdings or 
dominated by those who controlled the sources of the supplies of water, 
found it increasingly difficult to procure a desirable homestead. But 
those in control had accumulated power as well as land, and their 
resistance to reform was vigorous and stubborn. Abram S. Hewitt felt 
the power of the western interests when he fought for his bill calling 
for the reorganization of the western surveys. Allan Nevins, in his 
biography of Mr. Hewitt, states, 15 

All Hewitt's skill and force were needed to carry the legislation in 
the House. He answered every objection, struck out vigorously at 
the "grasping corporations and overpowering capitalists" who were 
trying to seize our great Western heritage. 

Mr. Hewitt succeeded in pushing his bill through Congress, but 
this success was not such a material defeat to the powerful land interests 
of the West as to weaken their dominance except momentarily. For 
years they increased their power and their holdings and continued to 
enjoy considerable support from those who thought them public bene- 
factors. As late as 1904 Senator Francis G. Newlands told the Senate 
that he had always been tolerant of those who accumulated large 
holdings outside the law. They had yielded, he felt, "simply to the 
necessities of the conditions in the development of an industry that 
necessarily was conducted upon a large scale." But Senator Newlands 
was also concerned by the resultant hardships of these land grabs on 
the small settler; he emphasized that 16 

the concentration of these large areas of land necessarily retards the 
population development of a state. They constitute simply one era 
in the development of a state; but a subsequent era is desirable and 
. . . ought to be marked by an increase of small homes. 

He thought it unfortunate that those who controlled the land were 

u 'Abram S. Hewitt (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1935), p. 409. 
"Arthur B. Darling (ed.), The Public Papers of Francis G. Newlands (1932), Vol. I, 
p. 92. 

Land Use 123 

reluctant to yield to the settlers and that they embarrassed and retarded 
the movement of the settlers in every way possible. 

Failure of Private Ownership in Best Use of Nations Resources 

The report of the Census Bureau for 1890 revealed that the western 
frontier had ceased to exist. On the basis of this fact Frederick Jackson 
Turner in 1897 prophesied the growing need for adjustments in our 
economic and political life as the reality of the closed frontier became 
felt by an ever increasing population. Farsighted, indeed, was this 
prophecy, but it was too early to inspire appropriate anticipatory legisla- 
tion. Eleven years later Senator Newlands could say that land monopo- 
lies in the United States had not yet become too serious simply because 
of the large area of the country still available for settlement. But he, 
too, warned that an increase in population would produce serious con- 
sequences unless our land policy were carefully reoriented. 

The passing of the frontier evidenced the success with which the 
policy of transferring public lands to private ownership had been 
prosecuted. In little more than a hundred years the nation's frontier had 
been pushed across the continent. The emphasis on homesteading con- 
tinued, however, and though there was evident need to adapt laws to 
particular areas, it was not until 1904 that the Kinkaid Act enlarged the 
homestead to 640 acres for the western sand hills of Nebraska. It may 
be questioned whether this effort was primarily to assure proper use of 
that area or, since those lands had been rejected by the settler, a means of 
encouraging an increased population. Five years later the same prin- 
ciple was applied to nine other states and territories, but, interestingly 
enough, the unit was again reduced to 320 acres. 

The passing of the frontier, as Mr. Turner so clearly realized, meant 
that the end of the unlimited domain was in sight. The rapid destruc- 
tion of forest lands, increasing areas of cutover and burned-over stump 
lands, and the wasteful exploitation of mineral resources had invoked 
the wrath of many. The need for constructive legislation now became 
clearly realized and more widely supported. The evidence was dra- 
matic. It was apparent that private ownership did not assure the best 
use of the nation's resources. 

General Policies 

Congress officially recognized the shortcomings of private ownership 
in 1 891 when it authorized the President to set aside and reserve ap- 

124 Department of Agriculture 

propriate public lands as national forests. John Muir had urged the 
conservation of forest resources as early as 1876; the act of 1891 was largely 
the result of his influence. 17 Although this was the first legislative effort 
toward conservation based upon the public ownership of national re- 
sources, public interest in conservation had been aroused much earlier, 
particularly by the decline of fisheries and forests. 18 The Office of the 
Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries was established in 1871; in 1886 a 
Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy, later to become 
the Bureau of Biological Survey, was created in the Department. The 
real force behind the conservation movement, however, did not develop 
until after the turn of the century. It reached a peak in 1908 with the 
creation of the National Conservation Commission and the Conference 
of Governors called by President Theodore Roosevelt. 

The conservation movement can best be understood if three important 
points are kept in mind. Only after more than a century of indifference 
and neglect was the first real assault made upon the outmoded adminis- 
tration of the public domain. Second, the movement was confined pri- 
marily to nonagricultural lands, and public ownership was offered as the 
major remedy for misuse. A more extensive program might have met 
with complete disaster, yet, because of the still substantial and effective 
resistance to reform, only a few farsighted individuals seriously con- 
sidered the possibility of extending governmental control over private 

The general belief was that conservation of soil and water resources on 
private lands could best be effected through education. If the farmer 
could be taught conservation methods that would net him increased 
though deferred returns, he would be inclined to accept them. The 
public, too, needed to be made more acutely aware of conservation, for 
it was believed that any attempt at regulation of private lands would be 
futile until the farmer could be controlled, in part at least, by public 
opinion. "Knowledge," said Mr. Van Hise in 1910, "must be carried out 
to him [the farmer] before such control can become effective. With 
knowledge will come a sense of responsibility. Whenever knowledge and 
public opinion have sufficiently developed, laws may be enacted to re- 

17 Department of Agriculture, Office of Information, "Radio Service," April 21, 1938 


18 Ibid. Although President Cleveland set aside 21,000,000 acres of public lands for 
forests, the whole was subsequently restored to the public domain for a year. Many choice 
parcels became privately owned. John Muir fought this situation and, in 1903, while on a 
camping trip with President Theodore Roosevelt, had an opportunity to talk with him 
about conservation needs. "For three days and nights John Muir and 'Teddy' Roosevelt 
camped under the big trees of California, and the President gave new impetus to con- 
servation when he returned to Washington." 

Land Use 125 

strain the reckless and lazy." 19 Finally, though many regarded con- 
servation as a positive contribution to the long-time welfare of the 
nation, the vital public support was arrayed behind the desire to check 
greed and special privilege and the hope for a redistribution of wealth. 
"To keep greed and special privilege from getting an increasingly unfair 
share of land, mineral, forest, and other resources was a part of Theodore 
Roosevelt's 'trust busting' efforts. This redistribution-of-wealth motive 
was the real spark that arrayed public support behind the efforts of the 
conservationists." 20 

The philosophy of public lands that prevailed during the early years of 
the twentieth century is evidenced by the Reclamation Act of 1902. 21 
President Theodore Roosevelt, in his message to the Congress on 
December 3, 1901, stressed the need for reclamation of the unsettled arid 
public lands by the national government. He stated that the object of 
the government was to dispose of those lands to settlers who would build 
homes upon them, that lands reclaimed by irrigation works should be 
reserved by the government for actual settlers. In discussing the Reclama- 
tion Act before the Senate in 1904, Senator Francis G. Newlands, the 
father of reclamation, expressed pride in the provisions limiting the 
water available to each owner to an amount sufficient for only 160 acres. 
He argued that since the land proprietor could obtain only such a re- 
stricted water right, he was induced to divide up his land and sell it to 
other settlers, who in turn could procure similar quantities of water. 22 

So the very policy of the Government, as shown in that act, is in 
the line of breaking up the existing system of land monopoly and of 
land concentration in that region. Then we guard against future 
monopoly of government lands under the irrigation act by allowing 
entry only under the homestead act, without commutation, thus com- 
pelling five years' bona fide residence and cultivation before title can 
be secured. The land monopolist cannot easily twist such an act to 
his purpose. 

The results of the conservation and collateral movements were ex- 
tremely limited in the light of then existing problems, yet they marked 
a radical departure from the laissez-faire policies of the past. The need 
for positive governmental action was recognized and, within narrow 
limits, made effective. At the same time, the public was aroused to the 
serious condition of our natural resources and lent its support, for one 

^The Conservation of Natural Resources in the United States (New York: Macmillan 
Company, 191 0), p. 354. 

^Bushrod W. Allin, op. cit., p. 16. 
^32 Stat. L. 388. 
^Darling, op. cit., p. 93. 

126 Department of Agriculture 

reason or another, to the programs of the conservationists. Public in- 
fluence on the evolution of our land policy cannot be overemphasized. 
Indifference had characterized the administration of the public domain 
during most of our history; even the conservation movement was re- 
stricted to meet the attitude of a public that had no general conviction of 
the needs for government regulation of private property. Among the 
conservationists were those who saw that a complete conservation pro- 
gram should be based upon the interrelationships of water, land, forests, 
and other resources. They saw, too, that such a program could not de- 
velop if private property were to be excluded. But owners of private 
property were not prepared to sacrifice immediate advantages to the 
nation's future interests. A higher public sense of social responsibility 
would be necessary. 23 

The development of a public opinion that would support a broad 
integrated attack on the whole land-use problem was to be deferred until 
after the inadequacies of earlier policies were demonstrated in dramatic 
and positive fashion. New champions of conservation appeared from time 
to time not only to press for specific legislation but to support their 
case with the facts developed through research. Many separate streams 
of thought and action associated with land use flow through the years 
of the twentieth century, each claiming more and more adherents, each 
contributing potentially to a broader single current. Not until 1933, 
however, did the real drive for an integrated attack begin to meet 
genuine success. 

Wildlife Protection 

Out of the earlier efforts to protect fish and fisheries 24 extensive 
wildlife protection programs developed. The first of a steadily growing 

^Land speculation had become a part of the "American way." Abundant land at and 
beyond the frontier, coupled with a continuous demand by an increasing population, lent 
itself to excessive speculation. Not only were land prices — including those of agricultural 
lands — inflated, but the farmer himself participated in enriching himself through 
capital improvement. Even the disappearance of the frontier failed to stem the specula- 
tive fever; with the elimination of free or cheap lands the rise in prices was ac- 
celerated. (See below, p. 130.) Though a deflation of farm values set in during the 
1920's, the public participated in or watched with interest the land booms that were pro- 
moted all over the nation. The Florida episodes were merely more dramatic and more 
widely publicized than the countless smaller ones in cities, suburbs, and resorts. Truly 
the American speculative temperament has developed from the land. The social costs 
involved in land speculation were generally overlooked or ignored. The outstanding ex- 
ception was, of course, Henry George, whose book, Progress and Poverty (1879), was 
based upon his study of land problems. But he could make little headway against so 
strong a tide. 

24 See above, p. 29. 

Land Use 127 

system of federal bird refuges was assigned to the Bureau of Biological 
Survey by executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. 25 
Subsequently the problem of wildlife conservation was attacked through 
the treaty-making power under an act of 191 8 and by a subsequent ex- 
tension of wildlife refuges. As early as 1915 E. W. Nelson, Chief of the 
Bureau of Biological Survey, urged the acquisition of land and water 
areas for conversion into permanent sanctuaries for wildlife. It was 
thirteen years, however, before Congress enacted the Migratory Bird 
Conservation Act and established a Migratory Bird Conservation Com- 
mission. The Commission was a counterpart of the National Forest 
Reservation Commission, since its membership included two senators, 
two representatives, and the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and 
the Interior. It was given general control over an expanded program of 
land purchase for wildlife sanctuaries. 

Here again, in this field of conservation, we find a steady movement 
from specialized scientific researches toward a policy of land acquisition 
and administration, the basis of which must be increasingly ecological 
and regional if it was to be most effective. The policy must also be 
related both to other national land-use and water resources programs 
in each locality of application and to state and local land programs. 
Terms used to describe soil erosion, lowered water tables, and the 
destruction of vegetative cover, heretofore meaningless to the layman, 
now conveyed the stark realities of depleted and vanishing resources. 
It was not the fact, but the realization of the fact, that aroused public 
interest and support. A publication of the Department pointed out in 
1938 that the passage of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act was 
evidence not only that legislators, administrative agencies, and the 
public "at last began to appreciate the value of preserving and restoring 
wildlife . . ." but also that they began to see its relationship to land 
utilization. "The long cycle of drought beginning in 1915 and con- 
tinuing with an intensity almost unbroken for two decades was re- 
sponsible for a new and mounting interest by the public in the con- 
dition of organic national resources of all kinds." 26 

Despite this awakened public interest the most effective support for 
wildlife conservation continued to come from sportsmen's groups — 
special interests that were influential in the origin and development of 

25 Transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior by 
Reorganization Order No. 2, July 1, 1939. 

26 Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Research and Management Leaflet BS-io8, March, 
1938, p. 8. . 

128 Department of Agriculture 

wildlife conservation programs. In the administration of these programs, 
therefore, the Department embraced the special interests of sportsmen, 
and, where the land was affected, these interests had to be harmonized 
with other land programs. 

Other administrative problems arose. Wildlife conservation was a 
new profession for which personnel had to be specially recruited and 
trained. Eventually universities offered courses to equip interested 
students for service in the field, but in-service training was always 
important. Jurisdictional limitations resulted in special relations with 
state governments. The treaty-making power was called upon to give 
the national government supervision over migratory birds, but mammals 
and bird-breeding grounds remained under state supervision except 
where the national government held title to the land. Efforts to fur- 
ther national-state collaboration were made by wildlife conservation 
organizations and resulted in the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937. This 
Act authorized the earmarking of excise taxes on firearms, shells, and 
cartridges and their apportionment among the states for wildlife 
restoration projects. It also provided that for a state to qualify for benefits 
its legislature must have assented to provisions of the Act and "have 
passed laws for the conservation of wildlife which shall include a 
prohibition against the diversion of license fees paid by hunters for 
any other purpose than the administration of said State fish and game 
department." 27 

Emerging Land Problems 

As late as 1928 H. H. Bennett could say that everyone familiar 
with the evil effects of soil erosion realized the seriousness of the 
problem but that few knew how widespread erosion was. "There is 
necessity," he said, "for a tremendous national awakening to the need 
for action in bettering our agricultural practices in this connection, and 
the need is immediate." 28 Only after the dust clouds that rose from the 
Great Plains rolled over the country — at times as far as the Atlantic 
seaboard — did the public become seriously interested in misuses of lands 
that permitted, through erosion of all kinds, the destruction, often 
permanent, of the nation's soil resources. 29 

27 It has been said that this provision would encourage the issuance of hunting and 
fishing licenses as a source of income rather than a protection of wildlife. We have al- 
ready noted the efforts similarly to earmark gasoline and automobile taxes for road de- 

^Department of Agriculture, Soil Erosion, A National Menace (Circ. No. 33, 1928). 

29 Samuel T. Dana, "Farms, Forests, and Erosion," Yearbook of the Department of 

Land Use 129 

Upon the assumption of a continually increasing population it was 
freely predicted as late as 1910 that the maximum population in the 
United States would be between 300,000,000 and 500,000,000 by the 
year 2000. By 1920 predictions became much more conservative, but 
even then Messrs. Pearl and Reed visioned 185,000,000 by the year 
2000 and 197,000,000 in the year 2100. 30 It was apparent, too, that the 
choicest agricultural lands had been taken up. The pressure of an 
increasing population on the food supply, evidenced in the early years 
of this century by the steadily decreasing exports of grain and livestock, 
presaged the conversion of poorer and poorer lands to agricultural uses. 
Land and lumber companies, in fact, found the forces of population 
pressure advantageous in encouraging expansion into the submarginal 
cutover areas of the Lake States. 

Many thoughtful economists seriously questioned the prevailing sys- 
tem of land settlement and became interested in the possibility of re- 
stricting settlement to appropriate lands. "The subject was discussed in 
numerous papers at meetings of the economic associations and the con- 
ferences on marketing and rural credits held in Chicago in 1915 and 
1916." 31 The World War, however, and the concomitant food scarcities 

Agriculture (1916), pp. 133-34, presents a most interesting discussion of the physical 
factors contributory to soil erosion, of the diverse results of erosion, and of the imminent 
need for positive action to prevent the aggravation of an already serious problem. At that 
time 4,000,000 acres of farm land had been ruined by erosion, and there was an annual 
loss of 400,000,000 tons of soil material. The author prophesies that the day of reckoning 
would surely come when we should pay the price for such prodigality: "The problem of 
erosion and its control forms an integral part of any comprehensive plan for the develop- 
ment of our natural resources. If all land were put to its best use and so handled as to 
maintain its productivity the problem would be solved. This result can be attained, how- 
ever, only by marked change in our present practice. A stop must be put to reckless 
destruction of the forest, to uncontrolled fires, to overgrazing, and to careless farming. For 
the sake of the farmer in particular and the public in general, steps should be taken to 
retain and restore the forest cover in the mountains, under public ownership or super- 
vision. There should be brought home to the people as a whole the extent and seriousness 
of erosion and the necessity for its control by the community. When all these steps are 
taken, and not until then, will 'farms, forests, and erosion' be a queer combination. When 
that day finally arrives we shall indeed have farms and forests, but no erosion." See above, 
p. 26, for a discussion of Raphael Zon's The Future Use of Land in the United States 
(1909). Note that Mr. Zon and Mr. Dana were both members of the Forest Service, as 
was W. B. Greeley. The importance of catastrophes in implementing action cannot be 
overstressed as a factor in public administration. Note that the deaths from the use of 
sulfanilamide gave impetus to the passage of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938. 

30 See Regional Survey of New Yor\, Vol. II, p. 113, where, in 1923, Ernest Goodrich, 
after consultation with the Department of Agriculture, was still predicting a national 
population of 300,000,000 for 1965, as a basis for predicting the population of the New 
York region. 

M L. C. Gray, address at the B.A.E. Conference on Agricultural Planning, Washington, 
D. C, March 22, 1939. 

130 Department of Agriculture 

confirmed for many the serious scarcity o£ agricultural lands. L. C. 
Gray points out that while the shortage of food was generally attributed 
to scarcity of land, it actually resulted from the absence of millions of 
men in the armed forces and in war industries. Previous poor seasons 
in this country, the decrease of production areas, and the shortage of 
fertilizers and of work animals in Europe contributed to the scarcity. 
"This was the background of the Crosser Bill fostered by the Depart- 
ment of Labor and of the Lane-Mondell Bill supported by the Depart- 
ment of the Interior, both providing for government colonization. The 
close of the war saw the realization of this idea in the veterans' 
colonies." 32 The collapse in farm prices in the twenties, however, com- 
pelled the disconcerting realization that no matter how optimistic our 
views on the increase in our population, there was no prospect that it 
would soon absorb the vast productive capacity of our farms as stimu- 
lated by the World War. 

Though the frontier had disappeared and desirable free lands became 
ever scarcer, belief in the "land of unlimited opportunity" continued 
to beguile those who did not, or would not, meet the truth. "Don't sell 
this country short!" was the way Arthur Brisbane put it in a repetitive 
staccato during the late twenties. 33 The steady increase in number and 
per cent of tenant farmers made it clear that "unlimited opportunity" 
did not mean unlimited free land. Of course, there had been tenant 
farmers in the United States even before the Revolution, and they 
represented slightly more than 25 per cent of all farmers in 1880. But 
earlier opportunities for tenants to move to farms of their own had been 
abundant. These opportunities had almost disappeared in the twenties, 
when the number of tenants exceeded 2,500,000 and represented over 
42 per cent of the farm population. 34 

It has been said that in earlier years farming was the only industry in 
which a person could lose money all his life and die rich. Between 
1850 and 1920 only one census, that of 1900, failed to show an important 
increase in farm real-estate values. An average price of $11.14 P er acre 
in 1850 became more than six times as great, or $69.38, by 1920. Cer- 
tainly this was a gala era for the speculator, whatever the consequences 
to the land. Based upon this record of increasing values and the 

w Ibid. 

33 See above, p. 126, N. 3. J. P. Morgan, the elder, had used this phrase even earlier. 

34 These figures do not indicate any fundamental evil in farm tenancy. It is the absence 
of a broad understanding of the real value of the tenant, and hence the inadequacy of pre- 
vailing landlord-tenant relations, which gives rise to the serious problems of tenancy. 
Abundant free or cheap land checked the pressure of an exploitative tenancy system. 

Land Use 131 

optimistic belief in a continuance of the same trend far into the future, 
excessive debts anal interest charges were easily and fearlessly assumed. 
But the collapse of farm prices in 1920 and the resultant decline in farm 
values that continued through the next thirteen years translated the 
prevailing financial system into countless tragic experiences. Despite 
the staggering increase in farm values credit and refinancing became so 
liberal that between 1910 and 1920 the increase in farm debt outstripped 
the rise in farm values. With the lowered prices for farm produce those 
who did not lose their land because of excessive debt were compelled to 
mine the soil fertility in an effort to meet fixed obligations. The serious- 
ness of this condition was severely aggravated by the persistence with 
which farm taxes continued to mount until 1929. 

The failure to protect the nation's stake in land resources was now 
dramatically demonstrated. The long period of expansion and exploita- 
tion had left its marks. Increasing floods, cutover forest lands and 
ghost towns, abandoned farms and the loss of homesteads, tenancy, 
soil erosion, and siltation of waterways and of reservoirs bespoke the 
consequences of waste and abuse. Society had the right to be troubled 
about such problems. Had the evil effects of the misuse of land been 
confined to the owner of such land, that would have been bad enough. 
But the nation was justly concerned when the soil that blew from one 
man's farm not only destroyed it but seriously impaired the value of his 
neighbor's land and threatened the health of people two thousand miles 
away; or when soil that washed away was carried into streams and 
waterways, not only spoiling the ordinary use of such water but silting 
the reservoirs behind expensive dams and threatening their value. 
Clearly these problems, if not caused by the misuse of private lands, had 
been seriously aggravated by it. Improved management of the remaining 
public domain would help but certainly would not solve the problem. 
Earlier policies of public ownership, extended to correct all abuses of 
the land, would be impossible. Furthermore, it was felt that the land- 
owner could be made to realize that his real interest demanded the 
management of his property so as to conserve and not to destroy or 
even to impair his major capital asset. Not until after careful investiga- 
tion of the reasons for such widespread mismanagement was the full 
import of national and international economic forces revealed. 

Public Interest in Private Land Use 

We have seen that the factors contributing to the farm problem ex- 
tended far back into the history of the nation. A continuing agricultural 

132 Department of Agriculture 

prosperity, however shaky its foundation, delayed the formulation of a 
comprehensive program for attacking the problem on all fronts. Agri- 
culture reached the end of its heyday in 1920. The validity of the as- 
sumption that the farmer, given adequate information, would solve his 
own problems was exploded, though it remained clear that no solution 
was possible without conscientious farmer participation. The prevailing 
concepts of agricultural technology and farm management became 
clearly inadequate as solutions of the problems that became increasingly 
severe and involved. That there was need for something more than 
individual action, guided by research and education, became clear 
during the twenties. Although belief in the older relationships between 
the national government and the farmers dominated legislative policy 
until the passage of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929, the basis 
of many programs eventually to be formalized by legislation was laid 
in the thinking, research, and pressures of this period. 

Development of the Change in Policy 

The first important event of note in this connection took place in 
191 8 when Secretary Houston called to Washington recognized au- 
thorities in farm management and asked them to appraise the activities 
of the Office of Farm Management and to recommend fields of agri- 
cultural policy that might properly be explored by that Office. 35 Separate 
conferences were later held to indicate in greater detail the nature of 
the projects proposed by the first group. Of the eight projects finally 
approved, one pertained directly to land economics (land utilization), 
"involving the consideration of land resources, values, ownership and 
tenancy, settlement and colonization, and land policies." 36 One of the 
new divisions of the Office of Farm Management set up to undertake 
the expanded research was to be devoted to land problems and, at the 
suggestion of L. C. Gray, was named the Division of Land Economics. 
In time this Division acquired the unit working on agricultural 
geography under O. E. Baker; on its creation, the Division became a 
part of the B.A.E. Early studies were devoted to land-boom phenomena, 
credit facilities to tenants for land purchases, the landlord-tenant con- 
tract, and land settlement in the cutover areas of the Lake States. 

Reflective of the notion of an increasing pressure of population on 

35 For a report of this conference see Circular No. 132 of the Office of the Secretary, 
Department of Agriculture (191 8). 

^Department of Agriculture, Yearbook, of the Department of Agriculture (1919), pp. 

Land Use 133 

agricultural production was the appointment in 192 1 by Secretary Henry 
C. Wallace of a departmental committee to survey the lands not being 
used for crop production and to determine how they might best con- 
tribute to an increased agricultural production as needed. One year later 
a qualification of this view appeared in the report of the Secretary: 37 

The American people have commonly believed that all our arable 
lands are agricultural, virtually regardless of soil, topography, loca- 
tion, or climate. We are only now beginning to understand . . . that 
this belief rests on a serious misconception. Agricultural economists 
are coming to the conviction that the future tendency in farming 
will be toward more and more intensive cultivation of the better 
lands, with higher production and relatively lower costs. The lands 
upon which the margin of profit will be very small or uncertain 
because of poor soil, climate, topography, or location will tend to pass 
out of cultivation. This will be all the more true of soils which can 
be made to yield materially higher returns from other forms of use. 

The report of the departmental committee on land utilization, pub- 
lished in the 1923 Agriculture Yearboo\, shed new light on the ratio of 
productive lands to population. The report noted the reduction in the 
rate of population growth but pointed out that there was a relative 
abundance of arable land for a much greater population than could 
reasonably be anticipated. The real needs were to prevent the evils of 
excessive and misdirected expansion of land settlement and to direct 
the utilization of land resources in accordance with regional variations 
and with essential and economic adjustments. The report concluded 
with a most significant plea for administrative integration of the many 
governmental functions involved in land policy: 38 

Unfortunately during the past 100 years the different functions con- 
nected with land policy have been distributed among various gov- 
ernmental agencies. As one looks into the future, however, it becomes 
apparent that we are entering an economic era in which the various 
functions involved in working out the new policies are vitally inter- 
related, requiring unification in administration. Only by such unity 
of policy and of execution can ill-considered and excessive expansion 
and rapid but wasteful utilization be supplanted by deliberate selec- 
tion, careful economy, and constructive development with due 
reference to the long-time requirements of the nation. 

Z1 lbid., 1922, pp. 89-90. 

38 Ibid., 1923, p. 506. In addition to agencies of the Department of Agriculture, the 
Geological Survey, the Land Office, and the Park Service of the Department of the Interior, 
and the Army Corps of Engineers of the War Department would have to be included in any 
unified program. 

134 Department of Agriculture 

The Secretary, in his report for 1924, referred to the departmental 
studies of land resources, farm tenure, land value, and land income as 
an important phase of its economic research. It was clear that much of 
the agricultural distress was the result of misfit land policies and 
systems of farming, that land classification was necessary in order to 
bring about the use of lands for the purposes to which they were best 
suited, that additional land reclamation at that time would aggravate 
the farm problem, and, since a considerable amount of land tenancy 
was necessary, that the important thing was for tenant agreements to 
be fair to owners and renters. In his report for 1925 the Secretary 
emphasized the value of furnishing farmers with economic information 
that would serve as a guide to intelligent production and, in time, 
measurably reduce the fluctuation of unbalanced production. In the 
1926 report, however, he stated that the solution of the farm problem 
was not simply in the disposal of surpluses. Debt, taxation, costs on the 
farm, transportation charges, as well as adjustment of crop production, 
would have to be dealt with. There also appeared this significant state- 
ment: 39 

We are beginning to see that a healthy and prosperous rural life 
must be based on sound use of land, that public policies which fly 
in the face of economic laws do not promote permanent welfare, and 
that to convert forest land and pasture land into submarginal agri- 
cultural land has broader consequences than those which fall on the 
individual farmer and his family, or even on the local community. 

Despite the excessive capacity of agricultural production powerful 
interests continued to stimulate the expansion of the nation's farm area 
and sought to enlist for that purpose the funds and the initiative of the 
national government. In 1927 the Secretary expressed his concern over 
this situation and insisted that with a huge reservoir of potential farm 
lands the problem was not how to force those lands under the plow 
but how to allocate them among major uses so as to assure their 
profitable use. Furthermore, he expressed in mild terms the desirability 
of influencing the use of private lands through investigation and helpful 
direction by government. 40 

39 Ibid., 1926, p. 113. 

^Seven years earlier W. B. Greeley had made a stronger plea: "We have been very 
loath in the United States, with its abundant natural resources, to place any restrictions 
upon the freedom of the individual in using his own property. We have scarcely gone 
beyond restraints essential to prevent an actual menace to one's neighbors, like a fire trap 
in a thickly settled city, or a source of disease, or failure to exterminate noxious insects 
and plants. 

"The time has come to go a step further in our conception of the rights of the individual 

Land Use 135 

The Campaign for Soil Erosion Control 

The dangers attending soil erosion and the need for a national awaken- 
ing to the urgency of a direct governmental attack upon this problem 
were, as we have seen, set forth by H. H. Bennett. One of the most im- 
portant contributions to a broader national policy of land utilization 
resulted from Mr. Bennett's campaign for soil erosion control. L. C. Gray 
has pointed out that the Department had. a research program on 
erosion "but was content to rest on research. Mr. Bennett, however, was 
a crusader fired with an enthusiasm that could not be dampened by 
the skepticism of some of his research-minded associates." 41 And he con- 
tinued to press his theme upon the public and his colleagues. "In the 
near future," he said, "the nation will have to deal with the erosion 

problem The sooner the problem is attacked the greater will be the 

saving in farm and ranch solvency." 42 

The success with which H. H. Bennett advanced his campaign for 
erosion control is particularly significant. That he was not the first 
to point to the seriousness of soil erosion emphasizes the importance of 
his contribution and also the suitability of the setting for his campaign 
in the late twenties. Franklin H. King, Charles R. Van Hise, Samuel 
T. Dana, and others 43 who earlier warned of the consequences of ero- 
sion had not only to meet the prevailing concepts of land policy but 
themselves, to some extent at least, reflected those concepts. The 
abundance of free or cheap lands had not been conducive to careful 
husbandry by those who took pride in wearing out two or three farms 
in a lifetime. The general anticipation of a great pressure of popula- 
tion on agricultural resources justified the expansion of farming into 
submarginal areas; the peculiar reverence for unrestricted private prop- 
erty rights made even the suggestion of governmental regulation un- 

In the twenties, however, the remaining public lands were not well 
suited for agricultural uses, and the indiscriminate disposal of them 

as compared with the interests of the people as a whole. Lands which contain important 
natural resources can no longer be viewed as merely the property of their owners, with no 
obligation to the welfare of the country at large. Rather should they be regarded, in a 
sense, as public utilities." Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture (1920), pp. 155-56. 
Mr. Greeley was another farsighted member of the Forest Service. 

41 Op. cit. 

42 Yearbook of Agriculture, 1928, p. 547. 

^Franklin H. King, Farmers of Forty Centuries (1911). It is significant to note that 
all these men (and we might add Raphael Zon) were civil servants. In their efforts they 
created a "public" that would eventually grow into a powerful force behind national land 

136 Department of Agriculture 

was seriously questioned. Agricultural surpluses and new interpreta- 
tions of population growth devitalized the fears' of food shortages ; some 
leaders suggested that unrestricted private use of lands was in conflict 
with interests of society, which should be protected by governmental 
action. Technology, too, played its part in perfecting the setting. The 
automobile gave to millions a mobility that brought within their hori- 
zons relatively huge areas and brought to their view the ravages of 
erosion. Perhaps the increasing use of the airplane gave to many a 
startlingly dramatic view of gulleys and of other evidences of erosion 
in areas that from the ground appeared, to the uninitiated at least, 
relatively stable. 

All these factors, with the long period of drought that had started in 
1915, made the public increasingly receptive to the need for soil erosion 
control. The problem's solution, however, required careful research. 
Various investigations dealing with the erosion problem had been 
carried on by the Forest Service, the Weather Bureau, the Bureau of 
Chemistry and Soils, and the Bureau of Public Roads. But these studies 
were undertaken more or less independently. Increased public interest 
in soil and moisture conservation, however, led to a Congressional 
appropriation to the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils for the fiscal year 
1930 for soil erosion investigations. The Secretary was thereby author- 
ized to investigate the causes of soil erosion and the possibility of in- 
creasing rainfall absorption and to devise means of preserving soil, of 
preventing or controlling erosion, and of conserving rainfall by terrac- 
ing or other means "independently or in cooperation with other 
branches of the Government, State agencies, counties, farm organiza- 
tions, associations of businessmen [and] individuals." 44 

The Secretary recommended that the remedy for overextended agri- 
culture was in curtailed production and that the place to curtail was 
on the submarginal lands, where returns were least profitable. Not 
only should further expansion of agriculture be held in check, but also 
cultivation of submarginal lands should be stopped. 45 He emphasized, 
however, that this measure required a positive land policy, that the 
task should not be thought of as merely a means to restrict the use of 
land, for such an effort would meet with substantial resistance. The 
Department should develop economic land classification with the full- 

44 Report of the Secretary of Agriculture, 1929, p. 46. 

45 Note that surplus problems and conservation problems come together in a common 
channel of land use. We shall see this common channel grow deeper and wider as new 
activities develop. 

Land Use 137 

est possible cooperation of the states and with a view to changes in tax 
systems, to the regrouping of population in sparsely settled areas, to the 
reorganization of local governmental units, to the extensive public 
ownership of lands where they could be made to serve their purpose in 
no other way, to the establishment of demonstration areas, and to 
other means of educating the landowners to methods of handling their 
lands profitably and efficiently. It was becoming clear that land utiliza- 
tion embraced many subjects that had heretofore been considered the 
independent prerogative of separate operating agencies. 

State Interest in Land-Use Problems 

State governments, too, were developing interest in land-utilization 
problems. The Report of the New Yor\ State Commission of Housing 
and Regional Planning, released in 1926 and usually referred to as the 
pioneer state planning report in the modern sense, contained an in- 
ventory of the state's assets, a historical description of the use of its 
natural resources, and the then current trends of such use. The ecological 
relationships between the people and the land would justify the adapta- 
tion of submarginal lands to public uses. Lands uneconomic for farm- 
ing could be used to develop public forests and, as such, not only would 
contribute to the timber requirements of the state and region, but, in 
the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains particularly, would protect 
vital water resources and help supply the need for additional recre- 
ational areas. At the same time, isolated settlements for which public 
services had to be provided at great cost could be eliminated. 

An economic survey of land problems of the cutover area was in- 
augurated by Michigan; similar efforts were made by other states. The 
Wisconsin Regional Planning Committee and the Illinois State Plan- 
ning Committee were created in 1929; the Trustees of Public Reserva- 
tions (a private organization) was advancing state planning in 
Massachusetts; a state plan for conservation was inaugurated by the 
Iowa State Conservation Commission. Development of state-wide ef- 
forts in land utilization had, of course, been preceded by an extensive 
record of city planning reaching back to. the early development of the 
nation, stimulated by the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and gradually 
expanded in scope to include the planning of metropolitan regions and 
counties. It was preceded, too, by the organization of various state 
agencies, conservation commissions, fish and game commissions, de- 
partments of game and fish management, and others created during the 

138 Department of Agriculture 

general conservation movement. The planning programs developed 
later largely from the need for state coordination of the planning, re- 
search, and operating functions in different fields. 

Coordination of Land-Use Activities 

During the late twenties one other strand in the evolution of a com- 
prehensive land policy was important. The idea of an over-all agency 
of the national government with responsibility for the integration or 
coordination of the land-use activities of many agencies developed from 
the efforts to bring together the doctrines of urban and rural planning 
and the research in land use which had been undertaken independently 
by various governmental units. The Committee on Bases of Sound 
Land Policy, under the chairmanship of Frederic A. Delano, 46 brought 
together for the first time specialists in agriculture, forestry, physical 
sciences, engineering, city planning, parks, and land economics for 
extensive discussion of the interrelations existing among the various land 
uses and for the study of data and conclusions of a number of federal 

This Committee was active in 1927 and 1928 and published a sum- 
mary of its findings in 1929, What About the Year 2000?. It attempted 
a rough inventory of the land resources of the nation and a forecast of 
the principal surface uses of land by 1950 and 2000. A vast store of 
pertinent information was discovered in many bureaus, but because 
of legal restrictions, "comprehensive treatises covering subject matter 
outside of that assigned to the Bureau making the study are seldom 
possible, even when several bureaus are within the same Depart- 
ment." 47 The studies in land classification undertaken by national and 
state agencies were held to be most important. But it was felt that some 
kind of national land committee or commission to outline a compre- 
hensive program based upon the coordination of different land classi- 
fication surveys would provide a guide for public officials and private 
persons in the determination of the best use of nonurban lands. All 
available data were analyzed from a national point of view, and the 
findings of the Committee indicated the need for comprehensive na- 
tional land-use planning. 48 The mistakes of the past might be impos- 

46 Later to become Chairman of the National Resources Planning Board. 

i7 What About the Year 2000? (1929), p. v; for membership of the Committee see 
p. viii. 

48 A pioneer work on national planning was the book by Cyrus Kehr, A Nation Plan 
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1926). In his preface the author indicated the scope 
of his work as follows: "The aim of this book is to point the way to the carrying on of 

Land Use 139 

sible to correct, but future errors, it was felt, could be avoided. Striking 
inconsistencies in the different governmental programs were revealed. 
One branch of the government grappled with the problem of surplus 
oils while another canceled leases of oil lands because of failure to 
drill wells by a specified time. Despite strikes, bankruptcies, and other 
forms of economic distress in the coal industry, additional coal lands 
were leased by the government under a stipulation of minimum pro- 
duction. While the problem of agricultural surpluses challenged the 
efforts of Congress and the Department, appropriations were made 
for the reclamation of more land. A way should be found to reconcile 
all land uses to each other: 49 

Just as progressive cities have been forced to abandon piecemeal 
planning, there are indications that the Nation will ultimately 
abandon piecemeal planning in favor of comprehensive land-planning, 
that is, there will be a conscious effort to establish control, through 
planning in advance, of the use of public and private land and its 
resources in the interests of the country, state, or region as a whole. 

public or civic work starting with the larger area and planning progressively downward 
to smaller and smaller features or factors. It is the author's conviction that the best com- 
munication over the area, the best co-ordination and most economical construction, 
maintenance, and service will be had through this broader planning. In short, any area, 
whatever its size, should be planned, not in parts or fragments, but with a general 
plan structure extending over that area and consisting of major factors in relation with 
which subordinate planning may later be developed. The author undertakes to embody 
these principles in a proposal for a plan for the physical development of the United 
States of America. The dominating consideration is the improvement of communication, 
a better distribution of increasing population, a better use of land. An incidental aim 
is to compare nation planning with city planning, which is already accepted in theory 
and in an increasing number of communities put into practice. It is also intended to 
show that this larger planning should have intimate bearing upon economics and 
sociology, in fact upon every phase of human interest and welfare. 

"In the text it is sought first to present argument relative to the broader planning — the 
broader civic effort. It is sought next to outline the benefits to be derived from taking our 
nation as a planning area, and to state reasons why there should be such a plan. Then the 
text states of what the plan is to consist, and what is not to be included; how the plan is 
to be prepared, and its execution carried out progressively from time to time. The greater 
part of the book is devoted to a discussion of the application of such a plan to the United 
States of America, with a fairly detailed treatment of individual factors. Among the 
matters of general interest treated are the improvement of transportation, including high- 
ways, waterways, railways, and seaports; the resulting better distribution of population 
and industries; the 'zoning' of immigrants and the handling of surplus labor; the pro- 
motion of conservation; and the relation of all these to social betterment. Throughout 
the text it is intended to say that everything pertaining to this Nation Plan, including its 
execution, is to be under the jurisdiction and direction of the national government." 

Although the book was published in 1926, the author notes that the manuscript "was 
written during the World War. . . . The years of the World War and immediately follow- 
ing were, however, not suitable for the publication of such a book. As now published, the 
book is essentially in its original form." This is another example of the war period as 
an interregnum in fundamental social progress. 

49 What About the Year 2000?, pp. 13-14. 

140 Department of Agriculture 

On several fronts progress toward a well-formulated land-use policy 
proceeded rapidly, but, though the need for integration was understood 
by many, a single comprehensive program had not yet been formulated 
embracing a simultaneous attack upon all parts of the farm program 
and directed to a common objective. The unbalanced farm income, 
tenancy, submarginal lands, soil erosion, and excessive debts each in- 
spired champions and programs, yet an integrated assault remained for 
the future. It is significant that the then Chief of the B.A.E., Nils A. 
Olsen, in his foreword to Land Utilization and the Farm Problem, 
stated in 1930 : 50 

An economic program of agricultural production that will contribute 
substantially to agricultural betterment must cope with three major 
problems: (1) The adjustment of supplies both in quantity and 
quality to world competition and market requirements, (2) increas- 
ing efficiency in production and resulting lower costs of production, 
and (3) the elimination of submarginal land from cultivation and 
the maintenance of an economic balance between agriculture on the 
one hand and other economic activities on the other. 

He concluded that the nation should without further delay replace the 
planless policy of agricultural development with programs, in addition 
to research and education, that would facilitate essential agricultural ad- 

Land-Use Conference 

One year later Arthur M. Hyde, Secretary of Agriculture, and the 
Executive Committee of the Association of Land Grant Colleges and 
Universities called the famous National Conference on Land Utiliza- 
tion. The preamble to the report of the Commission on Summaries and 
Conclusions, as amended and adopted by the Conference, called for the 
cooperation of all groups in formulating new land-use policies and for 
unity and coordination in the application of these policies to private as 
well as to public lands. 51 Among a group of specific recommendations 

50 Department of Agriculture, Misc. Pub. No. 97, November, 1930. 

51 It therefore becomes imperative for all groups connected with land use to cooperate 
in formulating new policies which shall be actively addressed, through adequate and 
unified organization and coordination, to the intelligent use of all publicly and privately 
owned land whether or not it be submarginal or supermarginal. The central purposes of 
these policies should be to develop and conserve our land resources in such manner as to 
provide adequately for our present and future needs. Any adequate land policy must 
provide for the preservation of soil fertility, must aid toward adjustment of production to 
demand, must provide for economic use of marginal lands, and in other ways must make 
for the security of agriculture. 

"The following were among the many topics considered by the committee and furnished 
much of the basis for its recommendations: An inventory of land resources as a basis of 

Land Use 141 

calculated to effect this policy, the Committee urged the creation of a 
national land-use planning committee representing various agencies 
of the national government and the land-grant colleges and the crea- 
tion of a national advisory and legislative committee on land use repre- 
senting a varied group of organizations. 

The calling of this conference jointly by the national Department of 
Agriculture and the Executive Committee of the Association of Land 
Grant Colleges and Universities again showed that the whole land-use 
problem was not exclusively within the jurisdiction either of the na- 
tional government or of the state governments. Certain recommenda- 
tions of the conference, particularly on taxation, tax-delinquent lands, 
and the maintenance of local forests, game refuges, and recreational 
centers, revealed the important part to be played by local units of 
government. The report of the conference also significantly emphasized 
the need for intelligent use of private lands and recommended that 
every effort be made to promote a sound type of private land utilization. 
The increasing emphasis upon the wise use of private as well as public 
lands represented a significant shift from the older emphasis on con- 
servation. It was no longer a matter merely of preserving resources for 
future enjoyment but of using the nation's resources so as to contribute 
to a present, as well as a future, improvement in the national life. 

The report of the Forest Service in response to Senate Resolution 
175, 52 introduced by Senator Royal S. Copeland and agreed to by the 
Senate on March 10, 1932, represented the most comprehensive and 
exhaustive survey of the nation's forest resources up to that time. 53 
The direct and related social and economic aspects of forests were ex- 
plored; the conclusion was that practically all the major forestry 
problems grew out of private ownership. Although extension of public 
ownership of forest lands was urgently recommended, the public regu- 
lation of private holdings was recognized as a legitimate governmental 
function. 54 

land use; the indication of crop areas and their limits; indication of range economic 
returns by soil regions; intensification of production; acquisition of land by the public; 
management of public lands; population; taxation; reclamation; and rural credits." 
Proceedings of the National Conference on Land Utilization, Chicago, November 19-21, 
1 93 1, pp. 240-41. 

52 72nd Cong., 1st sess. 

53 A National Plan for American Forestry (1933). An act of Congress of 1928, 45 Stat. 
L. 699, authorized appropriations for extensive forestry research through the Forest Service, 
in cooperation with the states, and through forest experiment stations. The information 
developed pursuant to this authorization formed the basis for this report. 

54 For a discussion of land -use control in European countries see Brandt, "Public Control 
of Land Use in Europe," Journal of Farm Economics, February, 1939; this article 
also throws light upon many land problems in this country. 

142 Department of Agriculture 


Conservation programs confined primarily to nonagricultural lands 
and based upon public ownership as the remedy for misuse were the 
outstanding developments in the land policy of the United States until 
1933. But, partly because of the conservation movement, partly because 
forces of early origin appeared in unmistakable terms, a national con- 
sciousness of, and interest in, natural resources problems had been 
established. From various sources separate streams of thought arose 
as solutions to land-use problems. The way had been cleared for the 
programs that would emerge with the New Deal. 55 

As Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt was interested 
actively in land-use problems. Under his administration a comprehen- 
sive land survey was undertaken, to include a classification of land for 
agricultural, forest, recreation, or residential purposes and an analysis 
of current uses and best adaptations of lands; an amendment to the 
state constitution was adopted which provided for the acquisition and 
reforestation of land outside the Adirondack and Catskill Parks; efforts 
were made to develop the St. Lawrence River; and state land-use plan- 
ning was advanced. The Governor made important public addresses 
in which he emphasized the importance of land-use planning — partic- 
ularly before the New York State Agricultural Society on January 21, 
1931, before the Conference of Governors on June 2, 1931, at the Round 
Table on Regionalism at the Institute of Public Affairs at the Univer- 
sity of Virginia in July, 1931, and before the National Country Life 
Conference in August, 1931. 56 In a campaign speech at Topeka, Kansas, 
on September 13, 1932, the Governor outlined his program for agricul- 
tural relief, which included "a definite policy looking to the planned 
use of land." 57 

Expansion of Land-Use Activities 

Thus, to the presidency of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt 
brought a sympathetic and active interest in land utilization. Under 

65 "When the seriousness of the North American position became recognized, the great 
publicity connected with the national conservation drive, both in the American Congress 
and in the Departments concerned, caused the American problem to become well known 
and appreciated, almost to exaggeration, throughout the world." Jacks and Whyte op. cit., 
p. 61. 

At the White House tea for King George and Queen Elizabeth, at which selected agency 
heads were invited to answer questions about the work of the United States government 
departments, the King asked the Secretary of Agriculture about our dust storms and erosion. 
It was his only question on American agriculture. L.O.W. 

56 See Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Actualities of Agricultural Planning," in C. A. Beard 
(ed.), America Faces the Future (1932), pp. 325-50. 

B7 The Evening Star, Washington, D. C, September 14, 1932, p. A-3. 

Land Use 143 

his leadership many new programs were born. The T.V.A., the C.C.C., 
the Soil Erosion Service, and the Subsistence Homesteads Division 
were projects designed to apply the principles of land use and state 
planning on a large scale. Important as was presidential support in the 
creation of these and other land-use programs, it should be remembered, 
however, that the previous research and planning by agencies such as 
the Forest Service, and by individuals such as H. H. Bennett and 
Rexford G. Tugwell (the latter of whom had been brought to Washing- 
ton by the President) expedited the development and administration of 
such projects. 

With the coming of the New Deal we find also the creation of a 
national resources planning agency. Previously, as we have noted, na- 
tional planning had been recommended as a means of facilitating 
national and state interdepartmental coordination and the integration 
of the functions and jurisdictions of different levels of government in 
order to make more effective the administration of land-use programs. 
It was not until 1933, however, that the national government estab- 
lished an agency to accomplish these objectives. Pursuant to Title II 
of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, 58 the National Plan- 
ning Board of the P.W.A. was established. By executive order the Na- 
tional Resources Board was created on June 30, 1934, as successor to the 
National Planning Board; this was in turn succeeded by and merged 
into the National Resources Committee, 59 set up by Executive Order 
No. 7065, dated July 7, 1935. Though it had no permanent basis, this 
formally constituted planning staff of the national executive had func- 
tions in the area of natural resources. Furthermore, stimulated by the 
National Planning Board, forty-five state planning boards had been 
established by June, 1935. 60 

New programs affecting land use were created in great number after 
1933. Many of these, such as C.C.C., F.C.A., P.W.A., T.V.A., R.E.A., 
W.P.A., Resettlement Administration and the R.F.C., were assigned 
to newly established governmental divisions. The administration of 
the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 and, temporarily, of the Soil Erosion 
Service and Subsistence Homesteads Division was placed in the Depart- 
ment of the Interior. The greatest concentration of new land-use activ- 
ities, however, was in the Department of Agriculture. The first of these 

58 48 Stat. L. 195- 

59 The National Resources Planning Board under Reorganization Order No. i, July i, 

60 State Planning, National Resources Board, 1935. The significance of the large number 
is qualified by the relative inactivity of many of these state planning boards because of 
inadequate appropriations or other limitations. 

144 Department of Agriculture 

programs was authorized by the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933. 
This Act was designed primarily to control the production of basic farm 
commodities. Nevertheless, recognition of the importance of conserva- 
tion prompted formulation of the A.A.A. program so as to encourage 
the shifting of those acres diverted from major crops that were soil 
depleting to crops or uses that tended to conserve, improve, or check 
erosion of soil. On October 25, 1935, President Roosevelt, in discussing 
this program, made the following statement: 61 

As I see it, this program has two principal objectives: First, to carry 
out the declared policy of Congress to maintain and increase the 
gains thus far made, thereby avoiding the danger of a slump back 
into the conditions brought about by our national neglect of agricul- 
ture. Second, to broaden present adjustment operations so as to give 
farmers increasing incentives for conservation and efficient use of the 
Nation's soil resources. 

The long-time and more permanent adjustment program will provide 
positive incentives for soil conservation. The benefit payments can be 
made on a basis that will encourage individual farmers to adopt sound 
farm management, crop rotation, and soil conservation methods. 
The crop insurance feature afforded by benefit payments will help 
farmers to maintain these beneficial systems of farming without in- 
terruption in poor crop years. Long-time adjustments can be adapted 
to natural soil advantages of regions and localities. Already the 
adjustment administration has under way local studies to help in 
working out farm programs on a county basis, so as to fit the best 
permanent use of the varying soil resources of the country up to that 
county's share of available domestic and foreign markets. Thus, 
plans are being worked out that should encourage widespread co- 
operation of farmers in a permanent national soil-maintenance 

Interestingly enough, this statement was made by the President more 
than two months before the United States Supreme Court, in its de- 
cision in the Hoosac Mills case, 62 declared the acreage adjustment and 
processing sections of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 uncon- 
stitutional. The Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, 63 sub- 
sequently passed by Congress, gave legal emphasis to the soil preserva- 
tion and improvement aspects of the agricultural adjustment program 
by the encouragement of soil-conserving and soil-building, rather than 
soil-depleting, practices. 

61 Issued at the White House in mimeographed form as a statement to the press. 
e2 U.S. v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936). 
63 49 Stat. L. 1 148. 

Land Use 145 

Reorganization of Land-Use Agencies 

The Soil Erosion Service was transferred from the Department of 
the Interior to the Department of Agriculture by an administrative 
order signed by the Secretary of the Interior on March 23, 1935. Under 
the Soil Erosion Act of April 27, 1935, 64 the Secretary of Agriculture 
was given extensive powers for the protection of land resources against 
soil erosion and was specifically directed to establish an agency to be 
known as the Soil Conservation Service. This Service, thereupon, be- 
came a permanent, Congressionally created agency in the Department 
and became the successor to the Soil Erosion Service. 

The Farm Security Administration, which, by Memorandum No. 
732 of the Secretary of Agriculture, dated September 1, 1937, succeeded 
the Resettlement Administration, was made responsible for the ad- 
ministration of a group of programs that stemmed from different 
roots. The Resettlement Administration, originally an independent 
agency organized pursuant to the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act 
of 1935, absorbed the Land Policy Section of the A.A.A., the Subsist- 
ence Homesteads Division of the Department of the Interior, and the 
Rural Rehabilitation Division of the F.E.R.A. The entire Administra- 
tion was transferred to the Department of Agriculture by an executive 
order dated December 31, 1936. 65 The F.S.A. succeeded to all the activ- 
ities of the Resettlement Administration with the exception of the land- 
utilization program, which was then transferred to the B.A.E. The 
F.S.A. was designated also to carry out the farm-tenant aid and rural 
rehabilitation programs under Titles I and II of the Bankhead-Jones 
Farm Tenant Act. 66 

Flood and Water Facilities Programs 

For three decades two schools of thought argued and fought over 
the proper method of controlling floods. One contended that down- 
stream engineering structures were most satisfactory; the other, that 
upstream retardation of water flow was an essential complement to, 
if not better than, downstream projects. The engineering approach had 
continuously dominated the flood control scene. Under the Flood Con- 
trol Act of 1936, however, a program of upstream flood control oper- 
ations was inaugurated, and the Department was assigned responsi- 
bility for carrying it out. "Federal investigation of watersheds and 

64 4 9 Stat. L. 163. 

^No. 7530. 

66 50 Stat. L. 522. 

146 Department of Agriculture 

measures for run-off and water-flow retardation and soil erosion pre- 
vention on watersheds shall be under the jurisdiction of and shall be 
prosecuted by the Department of Agriculture." 67 Though the meas- 
ures of watershed protection to be established were intended to protect 
downstream projects, the Department had a new program, which in 
restricted areas embraced the whole land-use problem. The Omnibus 
Flood Control Act of 1938 extended the program materially by author- 
izing, in addition to research, appropriations for works of improvement. 
The water facilities program was another new and important land- 
use project of the Department. Its purpose was to assist in providing 
water-storage and water-utilization facilities in the arid and semiarid 
regions but only where proper land use would be promoted. Sig- 
nificantly, the Water Facilities Act of 1937 68 provided that 

The Secretary of Agriculture, in administering the provisions of this 
Act, shall utilize the officers, employees, and facilities of agencies 
within the Department of Agriculture whose functions are related 
to the program provided for in this Act, and may allot to such agencies 
or transfer to such other agencies of the Federal Government as he 
may request to assist in carrying out any of the provisions of this 
Act, any funds available for the purposes of this Act. 

Thus, under this Act the Secretary was free to assign administrative 
responsibilities to one or more existing agencies and to make changes 
that appeared necessary to the most effective administration of the 
program. No such administrative flexibility was provided either in the 
agricultural adjustment program or in the erosion control program: 
the agencies authorized to carry out these activities were specified by 

Wildlife and Forestry Activities Extended 

The wildlife conservation activities of the Bureau of Biological Sur- 
vey 69 were extended by the acquisition of new refuges under the sub- 
marginal land-utilization program and the significant program author- 
ized by the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937. 70 This Act — also known as 
the Federal Aid to Wildlife Act — authorized an annual appropriation 
of funds to the Department equal to the 10 per cent tax on arms and 
ammunition. These funds were to be allocated to the states as assistance 
for research and for the acquisition and development of wildlife restora- 

67 49 Stat. L. 1570, sec. 2. 

68 50 Stat. L. 869. 

69 Transferred on July i, 1939, to the Department of the Interior. 

70 50 Stat. L. 917. 


Land Use 147 

tion projects. The program substantially influenced land utilization, 
particularly concerning wildlife, forestry, and soil and water conserva- 
tion, wherever projects were developed. 

The national forestry program was expanded significantly. "A major 
element of the physioecologic pattern of the United States is the one- 
third of its area (615,000,000 acres) from which the highest permanent 
economic and social service most effectively can be derived through the 
media of forests." 71 Since 1905 when Congress consolidated the technical 
and scientific forestry work in the Department and the actual admin- 
istration of the national forests (previously vested in the Department 
of the Interior), the responsibility of the Department in the nation's 
forest program has been frequently and extensively increased. The ac- 
quisition of forest lands by purchase was inaugurated by the act of 
March 1, 191 i, 72 and extended by the Clarke-McNary Act of 1924. The 
latter Act also authorized cooperative production and distribution of 
trees "for the purpose of establishing wind breaks, shelter belts, and 
farm wood lots upon denuded or nonforested lands within such co- 
operating States." 73 

After 1933 the forest activities already established were expanded and 
new ones were developed. The Department was assigned a majority 
of the C.C.C. camps, most of which were under the supervision of the 
Forest Service; through them improvements were made in forest man- 
agement. Other emergency activities contributed to the forestry pro- 
gram. Large additions to national forests were made under various relief 
programs; work projects added roads, trails, bridges, dams, fire-lookout 
towers, and other improvements; and the plains shelterbelt project, 
created by presidential executive order, permitted experimental forestry 
activities in relation to the control of wind and water erosion in the 
prairie states. 

The timber salvage and hazard reduction work in New England 
following the hurricane of 1938 gave the Forest Service an opportunity 
to do important improvement work in that region. In 1935 the Fulmer 
Act 74 authorized the national government to purchase forest lands and 
to turn them over to the states; the states would gradually reimburse 
the federal government. In 1937 the Norris-Doxey Act 75 authorized 

71 F. A. Silcox, "The Forests — Storehouses of Economic Wealth," Soil Conservation, 
July, 1938, p. 22. 
72 s6 Stat. L. 962. 
73 43 Stat. L. 653, Sec. 4. 

74 49 Stat. L. 963. 

75 50 Stat. L. 188. 

148 Department of Agriculture 

an extensive farm-forestry program in cooperation with the land-grant 
institutions and with state forestry agencies wherever such agencies 
would cooperate, 

or in default of such cooperation to act directly, to produce or procure 
and distribute forest trees and shrub planting stock; to make neces- 
sary investigations; to advise farmers regarding the establishment, 
protection, and management of farm forests and forest and shrub 
plantations and the harvesting, utilization, and marketing of the 
products thereof; and to enter into cooperative agreements for the 
establishment, protection, and care of farm- or other forest-land 
tree and shrub plantings within such States and Territories. 

It is significant that direct action was authorized if cooperation from 
state agencies was not forthcoming; the Clarke-McNary Act had au- 
thorized a farm-forestry program, but only on a matched-grant basis. Up 
to April, 1939, 76 Congress had not made an appropriation either under 
the Norris-Doxey Act or under the Fulmer Act. The two statutes, 
nevertheless, further indicated the extent of Congressional legislation in 
the land-use field. 

Expansion of Other Federal Activities Affecting Land Use 

By 1935 the federal-aid highway system had tied together every im- 
portant center in the country. Pressure from rural areas for better roads 
to markets and the need for federal unemployment relief resulted in 
a provision in the Hayden-Cartwright Act for expenditures of federal 
funds on secondary roads. Since little was then known of the condition 
of local roads, Congress recognized the necessity for extensive research 
and in the Hayden-Cartwright Act of 1934 authorized the use of 1.5 
per cent of the federal-aid highway funds for surveys. The highway 
departments of most of the states were soon cooperating with the 
Bureau of Public Roads 77 in a series of comprehensive highway plan- 
ning surveys. Perhaps the most significant result of this research was 
the recognition of the important bearing of the location of highways 
on land utilization. The development of an area may be encouraged or 
discouraged by building, or by failing to build, highways to it; road- 
building, therefore, becomes an integral part of a national land-utiliza- 
tion program. Chief T. H. MacDonald pointed out in 1939 that "The 
Bureau of Public Roads is cooperating with the other Bureaus of the 

76 The first appropriation for the Norris-Doxey Act in the sum of $300,000 was included 
in the Appropriation Act of June, 1939. 

"Transferred on July 1, 1939, to the Federal Works Agency. 

Land Use 149 

Department of Agriculture to the end that our secondary-road program 
may fit in with the land-use program of the Department." 78 

Other new and enlarged functions of the Department have impor- 
tant, even though indirect, effects upon land use. The Sugar Act of 
1937 79 provided that benefit payments might be conditioned upon pro- 
ducer compliance with stipulated practices of soil improvement and 
erosion prevention. An act of June 29, 1935, authorized the Secretary 
to conduct research into basic principles of agriculture and also pro- 
vided for a development of extension work. The surplus disposal and 
marketing agreement programs of the Department influenced land use 
primarily as they increased farm income; the crop insurance program 
encouraged compliance with agricultural adjustment acreage allot- 
ments and land-use practices. 

Administrative Problems 

Of the new and enlarged land-use activities established in the na- 
tional government after 1933, it is clear that administrative responsibility 
for a substantial portion was assigned to the Department of Agricul- 
ture. Expansion in activities on such a scale would naturally involve 
serious administrative adjustments in the organization of the Depart- 
ment. But here there were special characteristics making the adminis- 
trative problems even more complicated. In sharp contrast to national 
programs involving the use of the grant-in-aid, which extended across 
state lines, Congress placed the responsibility for most of these new 
programs directly in an agency of the national government without 
providing for delegation of that responsibility to another level of 

Direct-Action Programs 

Lines of action ran from the national government to the farms and 
farmers of the nation. These lines in most instances were direct; that 
is, they devolved through agencies of the national government — re- 
gional, state, and local — directly to the farmer. Not that the states were 
ignored in the administration of these programs: they were, in fact, 
invariably requested to participate in policy, research, planning, and 
action. 80 But they were not permitted to assume administrative respon- 

78 U. S. Congress. House. Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations. 76th 
Cong., 1 st sess., Hearings on the Agricultural Department Appropriation Bill for 1940, p. 

79 50 Stat. L. 903. 

80 Of course, Congress has no authority to require state agencies to assume administrative 

150 Department of Agriculture 

sibility. The Department was thus confronted not only by the problems 
ordinarily stemming from the jurisdictional relations of the national 
and state governments but also by those connected with the particular 
relationship between the Department and the state extension services 
and land-grant institutions. 

As these direct-action programs reached the individual farmer they 
materially influenced the use or manner of use to which he put his farm. 
This influence was a significant shift in the long-standing concept of 
private property rights. Farmers were not, of course, coerced into com- 
plying with national regulations, but they could find ample reason to 
participate in programs based upon constructive land-use practices. 
Under the A.A.A. program, for example, an acreage allotment of soil- 
depleting crops was set for every farm in the country. Compliance with 
such allotments was the basis for benefit payments and for other ad- 
vantages that definitely encouraged conformity. Under the same pro- 
gram other payments were made on the basis of soil-building practices 
adopted by the farmer to achieve a goal set for his farm. Some farmers 
entered into agreements with the Soil Conservation Service in which 
the Service, in order to organize soil conservation demonstration areas, 
offered material advantages in return for labor, materials, and revised 
farming practices. Similar agreements were, and may continue to be, 
consummated between the Soil Conservation Service or other national 
agencies and soil conservation districts. Under the Bankhead- Jones 
Farm Tenant Act of 1937 large areas of submarginal land were pur- 
chased in order to insure not only the better use of those areas but, by 
fitting them into the pattern of a region, to influence the use of remain- 
ing private lands. Control over other millions of acres was acquired 
through purchase and easement by the Forest Service, the National 
Park Service, the Indian Service, and the Bureau of Biological Survey. 

The two programs directed toward the use and flow of water author- 
ized action on private lands. The Pope-Jones Water Facilities Act 
provided for direct aid to individual farmers and ranchers in the de- 
velopment of facilities for water on private lands. The flood control 
program, in order to protect the investments in engineering flood con- 
trol structures, included measures directed to the control of flood flows 
and the stabilization of soils upstream. Then there were efforts to 
improve the status of the "lower third" of the farm population through 
rural rehabilitation, resettlement projects, and aid for farm tenants to 
become farm owners — all of which gave guidance or direction to private 
land use. But these efforts were not all. The authorized shelterbelt 

Land Use 151 

and farm-forestry programs were calculated to influence private land 
use; outside the Department programs such as reconstruction finance, 
reclamation, and grazing had material, though indirect, effects upon 
farms and whole rural areas. 

Democratization of Action Programs 

Lines of action thus running directly to the farmer on his farm, 
programs, the success of which usually depended upon the extent of vol- 
untary participation, the waiver implicit in such participation of the unre- 
stricted right of the owner to use his property in any way he pleased — 
all made substantial farmer support absolutely essential. One of the 
most significant developments in public administration was the effort 
to democratize the administration of these action programs. In order 
to permit the individual to be heard regarding his interests that were 
affected and in order to win his support and cooperation, he was asked 
to share responsibility for the administration of the programs. The 
activities of the A.A.A., for example, were administered with the aid 
of community and county committees of farmers elected by farmers. 
These committees had the power to allocate acreage adjustment allot- 
ments, to determine soil-building goals for the farms, and to partici- 
pate in the formulation and direction of many other activities. Appeals 
from these committee determinations were taken to special review 
committees, again composed of farmers, though appointed by the Secre- 
tary of Agriculture rather than elected. Tenant-purchase committees, 
rural rehabilitation committees, and debt adjustment committees also 
appeared in the counties. Local committees were operative in the ad- 
ministration of the New England salvaging project, and local people 
were primarily responsible for the activities of soil conservation districts. 
Other ancillary programs became operative only after a favorable vote 
by members of particular groups, and some devolved to specially 
organized cooperatives. Local citizens, therefore, equipped with basic 
knowledge of the areas they represented, were in a position to appraise 
many of the action programs that reached them and to influence their 
formulation as well. 

The farmer and his farm thus became the integral unit in the mul- 
tiple new land-use programs. It was on the farms that these programs 
converged, and it was the farmer who determined the participation of 
his farm in them. All new land-use activities did not affect all farms. 
Only one, the agricultural adjustment program, embraced all agricul- 
tural lands whose owners chose to participate. Others were operative 

152 Department of Agriculture 

in limited regions, in connection with specific commodities, or only in 
states that adopted certain enabling legislation. Generally, however, 
the farmer was asked to participate in more than one national program 
in addition to the long-established projects reaching him through the 
extension service and the county agent. 

The extent o£ the government's activities in problems of land utiliza- 
tion reflected considerable activity by the Congress. Its authorizations 
for the different activities were found in a number of legislative enact- 
ments resulting from the extensive efforts of Congressmen and interest 
groups. But nowhere, during the time most of this legislation was 
formulated, was there a comprehensive legislative plan to guide the 
lawmakers in fitting each special activity into a single whole. While 
there were no really serious inconsistencies in the laws, it was not sur- 
prising that as several of them converged at the farm, serious inconsist- 
encies developed. While one agency worked to improve the habitat of 
wildlife, another, seeking to reduce fire hazards, would remove the 
hollow logs in which local bear made their winter homes. One agency 
would develop a water project for wildfowl, while another drained a 
nearby lake in a campaign to control mosquitoes ; and while one agency 
sought crop reduction, another reclaimed arid lands. Frequently, of 
course, these inconsistencies developed between projects of two differ- 
ent departments, 81 but they also appeared far too frequently between 
projects of different agencies of one department, particularly the De- 
partment of Agriculture. 

^The Division of Grazing in the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service in 
Agriculture, for example, would have to harmonize their grazing policies. Cattlemen in 
the West frequently use forest lands in the summer and public domain lands in the 
winter to run their stock. Lands under one agency are thus supplementary to lands 
under another in individual private operations. Without an integration of policies governing 
leasing and management one agency may indirectly sponsor practices incompatible to the 
other. One agency, for example, may permit the grazing on its lands of more cattle than 
the lands or the grazing standards of the other would permit. Such conditions are un- 
satisfactory to all concerned. The public domain had long been subjected to indiscriminate 
use with a resultant depletion of the range cover and the development of erosion on 98 
per cent of the usable range. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 marked the end of the old 
homestead policy and made possible the management of the range through such means 
as regulating the number of livestock and the seasons of use. Thus, a rebuilding of the 
range was possible with resultant benefits not only to the Forest Service but also to the 
whole land problem. The significance of the Taylor Grazing Act was well stated by Hon. 
Edward T. Taylor in the House of Representatives on June 28, 1939: "The Taylor 
Grazing Act, an act which I am humbly proud to have linked with my name, removed 
from private settlement the major part of the public domain in order that the natural wealth 
of the West might be revitalized and the natural resources rescued from imminent chaos. 
Due to the combination of destructive elements that were eating into the very heart of 
the western economy, there was a very great need for a program demanding Federal 
attention to the public lands. This act furnishes that program. This law ought to have 
been enacted 20 years ago." Congressional Record, June 29, 1939, p. 11 642. 

Land Use 153 

Jurisdictional Integration 

Congress, it is true, has given primary responsibility for national 
programs to agencies of the national government, but constitutional 
limitations of jurisdictions necessarily leave relevant spheres of author- 
ity with state and local governments. Because of jurisdictional divisions 
no single level of government has complete authority on an areal basis. 
Ecological regions, such as the Great Plains, 82 the Pacific Northwest, 
the Lake States Cutover Area, 83 and others, embrace towns, cities, coun- 
ties, states, and parts of states. Only intelligent collaboration between 
the different levels of government can make most effective the total 
activities bearing upon the particular problems of each ecological re- 
gion and upon the relationship of one region to another. Furthermore, 
the increased effectiveness of all levels of government that results from 
collaboration makes each level in turn so much the more important. 84 
The Department, recognizing the serious need for bringing into har- 
monious focus the land-use activities of all levels of government, as well 
as the activities of its own agencies, has developed significant admin- 
istrative techniques for facilitating the accomplishment of that objec- 
tive. The problem has been one of coordination, and various coordi- 
nating devices have been developed. 

Coordination for Particular Problems 

Extensive coordination was required in the emergency program for 
wind erosion control. The critical situation in the Dust Bowl impelled 
the Congress, after receiving petitions from different states in the area, 
to appropriate under the Agricultural Conservation Act of 1936 an 
emergency relief fund of $2,000,000 to be allocated to the states in the 
Great Plains for the control of wind erosion. These states had already 
organized a land-policy advisory committee to help tie into a construc- 
tive program the activities of all the states under the emergency appro- 
priations. Subsequently the Department felt that its participation in 
guiding the use of these funds was needed and, later in 1936, sent Mr. 
Roy Kimmel to the Great Plains for the purpose of organizing on a 
permanent basis the Great Plains Committee. In 1937 the Congress 
reappropriated for allocation to the Great Plains states $50,000 of the 

82 See The Future of the Great Plains, Report of the U. S. Great Plains Committee (1936). 
See also a valuable book by Ross Calvin, S\y Determines (1934). 

See Forest Land Use in Wisconsin, Report of the Committee on Land Use and 
Forestry, Madison, Wisconsin (1932). 

84 See Regional Factors in National Planning and Development, Report of the National 
Resources Committee (December, 1935). 

154 Department of Agriculture 

unobligated balance of the original appropriation. At the same time, 
however, it had become clear that the results of this emergency program 
had been only moderately satisfactory and that a genuinely constructive 
operation would require a close integration of all the available govern- 
mental facilities in the region. In June, 1937, therefore, Mr. Kimmel 
was appointed coordinator of the Southern Great Plains with head- 
quarters in Amarillo, Texas. 85 

This officer works closely with the regional officials of the various 
departmental agencies, especially of the Agricultural Adjustment 
Administration, Farm Security Administration, and Soil Conservation 
Service. He examines plans for action developed by the bureaus 
and divisions and then recommends their approval or disapproval. 
In the field he is observing and appraising the operating effectiveness 
of the Department's programs. The coordinator is also working 
with the several State colleges and extension services, State land 
boards, and other State and local agencies, to the end that all efforts 
will be coordinated for effective action. 

Many coordinated interdepartmental attacks on particular problems 
developed in the late thirties. Most frequently they were based upon 
agreements negotiated between bureaus of different departments, but 
some required departmental confirmation. One of the most significant 
examples of this type of coordination pertained to the upper Rio Grande 
watershed. Representatives of three agencies of the Department of Agri- 
culture (Forest Service, F.S.A., and Soil Conservation Service) and 
three agencies of the Department of the Interior (Indian Service, Di- 
vision of Grazing, and Public Lands) sat as the Interdepartmental Rio 
Grande Board with responsibility for integrating the activities of the 
constituent agencies and developing cooperation with other interested 
organizations, such as R.F.C. and F.C.A., in order to bring about the 
necessary permanent adjustments in the area. Another interesting 
example was the joint administration of the Navajo Reservation by the 
Soil Conservation Service of Agriculture and the Indian Service of 

Coordination of the Operating Agencies 

On the departmental level there had always been the need, and there 
had been many provisions, for the coordination of bureau activities, 
particularly in research, extension, information, finance, and personnel. 

85 U. S. Congress. House. Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations. 75th 
Cong., 3rd sess., Hearings on the Agricultural Department Appropriation Bill for 1939, 
p. 84. 

Land Use 155 

With the many new functions and increased responsibilities of the 
thirties, however, coordination problems became increasingly complex. 
Theretofore it had been reasonably possible to isolate a specific program 
within a single bureau. But with the new objectives in land utilization 
it became impossible to organize the Department in that manner. Al- 
though definite responsibilities could be assigned to specific operating 
agencies, they could not be exercised independently of the work of 
other direct-action or research units of the Department. 

The Secretary of Agriculture stated that the ramifications of relation- 
ships among the Department's various agencies engaged in land-use 
activities were astounding and that, while coordination had, to some 
extent, developed naturally, there were still many fields in which 
deliberate efforts at coordination should be made. 86 Furthermore — for 
reasons already discussed — it was particularly important that the dif- 
ferent levels of government coordinate their land-use activities. Conse- 
quently, on July 12, 1937, the Secretary designated an officer to serve 
as coordinator of land-use planning with responsibility for integrating 
the Department's land-use activities and for facilitating cooperation 
between the Department's action agencies and state and local agencies. 
The following year the Office of Land Use Coordination was estab- 
lished as a permanent part of the Secretary's Office. 

Coordination among the agencies of the Department whose activities 
affected land use proceeded from within. Previous experience had pre- 
pared the bureaus for closely integrated efforts and had, moreover, in- 
spired them to initiate proposals for departmental coordination. Not 
only newly created land-use agencies but also others of long standing 
and with traditions of relative autonomy were compelled, when their 
programs converged upon a specific farm or region, to seek harmony 
and mutual aid. From 1933 to 1938 more than three hundred inter- 
bureau committees or subcommittees had been established to bring 
about such coordination. 87 In May, 1937, the land-use agencies and 
other interested bureaus had a series of conferences (held, incidentally, 
in the evening) to determine the most effective and inexpensive way 
of improving coordination of their activities. These efforts were largely 
responsible for the creation of the Office of Land Use Coordination, 

88 Lack of harmony, and even confusion, in the application of different programs to 
the same farm or other area brought complaints from land-grant institutions and state 
extension services about the administration of these programs by the national Department 
of Agriculture. It was considered important to resolve these difficulties and to develop collab- 
oration in furthering national programs. 

81 Hearings on the Agricultural Department Appropriation Bill for 1939, p. 88. 

156 Department of Agriculture 

which, under such auspices, would be able to make significant contri- 

The efforts of the operating agencies to further their coordination 
evidenced the importance of clearly defined objectives in the adminis- 
tration of a department. The programs of the land-use action agencies 
were all applicable to particular areal units — farm, county, watershed, 
dust bowl, or region. Thus, no matter how isolated the backgrounds 
from which the programs developed, they had, upon their application 
to specific areas, the common objective of improving or stabilizing 
such areas. It became vital for all programs operative in an area to add 
up to a positive whole and not to cancel one another — an objective 
accomplished only by close coordination. Out in the line of action, 
therefore, the need for coordination appeared most clearly, and there 
the initial efforts in this work were made. 

Collaboration with State Agencies 

The need for collaboration between the Department of Agriculture 
and state agencies, particularly the land-grant colleges and universities, 
is as important as intradepartmental coordination. Land use is inextri- 
cably tied to local services, institutions, laws, and cultural patterns. Sub- 
marginal lands, for example, which have been settled and farmed are 
the first to become tax delinquent. In their settlement and development, 
however, roads, schools, and other services must be provided and us- 
ually by laws compelling their continuance even when the land, some 
of it abandoned, some of it tax delinquent, fails to support such serv- 
ices. 88 These deficiencies must be charged to the remaining lands in 
the community or made up by the state. The submarginal land-purchase 
program of the Department undertook to correct such conditions in 
particular instances where, through purchase of uneconomic units, 
large areas could be blocked out for different or less-intensive usage. 
Such examples were, however, relatively few and their extension was 
necessarily limited by their great cost. 

State and local governments could make important contributions to 
the solution of this problem with positive advantages to their own inter- 
ests. Zoning and laws controlling the disposition of reverted lands 
would help to prevent further development of uneconomic settlements 
and would gradually convert submarginal lands to recreational, forest, 

88 Lands in some unsettled areas, such as the Lake States Cutover Region, have also 
become largely tax delinquent. Frequently, however, people have been left in the wake 
of the timber operators to confuse the problem of local services. 

Land Use 157 

or other beneficial uses. Land taxes might be so adjusted as to encour- 
age rather than retard application of principles of good husbandry to 
different types of land. 89 The outstanding example of such an effort 
was, of course, the Wisconsin Forest Crop Law. National, state, and 
local efforts to improve land use would complement each other with re- 
sulting gains to each level. 

The Mt. Weather Agreement 

Because of the too-extensive conception that national-state relations 
constituted an area for conflict rather than for collaboration, satisfactory 
working arrangements there were more slowly effected. An important 
contribution to close national-state relations in land use was the im- 
proved intradepartmental coordination. The resulting harmony of 
programs materially simplified points of contact and negotiation. Re- 
lationships in the fields of research and extension between the Depart- 
ment and the land-grant institutions were defined in memoranda and 
established by custom. The new programs, with responsibility in the 
Secretary, however, called for new arrangements, and over-all plan- 
ning to guide the integration of all efforts became necessary. The states, 
as well as the Department, realized the importance of collaboration 
and, in 1936, the Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities 
appointed a Committee on Federal-State Relations to work with a simi- 
lar departmental committee. A series of joint meetings was held, cul- 
minating in the one at Mt. Weather, Virginia, from which came the 
significant Mt. Weather Agreement of July 8, i938. 89a Under this agree- 
ment a system of coordinated land-use planning was established to cor- 
relate existing action programs in the field and to help guide the 
formulation of future programs. The foundation of the system was 
the farmers themselves, organized into groups, called upon to partici- 
pate in local planning and to bring their knowledge of local conditions 
to bear upon national programs. In each agricultural county of the na- 
tion the state extension service was to set up an agricultural land-use 
planning committee as a subcommittee of the county agricultural 
program-building committee; this committee would correlate the land- 
use plans, programs, and policies of community committees; and the 
efforts of the county committee were in turn to be correlated on a state 
basis by state agricultural land-use program or policy committees. 

89 See Donald Jackson, "Land Tax Delinquency and Land Use," Agricultural Finance 
Review, May, 1939. 

89a See Appendix B at page 463. 

158 Department of Agriculture 

This plan not only represented a most significant effort to democ- 
ratize the administration of national farm programs but helped tie se- 
curely at both ends the direct lines of administration reaching from the 
Department to the farmer on his farm. Farmer planning committees 
were by no means a new technique. Indeed, for a quarter of a century 
the plans of groups of farmers helped to guide the programs of the 
Extension Service — hence practically the local impact of the activities 
of the Department. Although the majority of the members of the new 
committees were farmers (with the county agent usually serving as 
nonvoting secretary), local officials of national agricultural programs 
were included. Participating technicians aided the committees when 
requested and aimed at uniformity in methods so that the plans of 
different groups might be satisfactorily integrated for use in a larger 
area. Thus, planning proceeded with action, and the individual, 
through his community committee, might be encouraged to influence 
policies affecting important phases of his economic life. 

In the Agreement the organization of a local land-use planning sys- 
tem was stressed, but it was pointed out that analysis and planning at 
the community level must, by successive correlations, be carried through 
county and state to the national level. This provision, of course, pre- 
supposed planning by the Department as well as by local and state 
committees. To guide on the national level the fundamentally essen- 
tial integration and unification of the planning of farmers and of spe- 
cialists (both of the land-grant colleges and of the Department itself), 
the Department would require some machinery for over-all land-use 
planning. Although steps in that direction had previously been taken 
by the Office of Land Use Coordination, they had been confined 
largely to the coordination of the administrative planning of the action 
agencies. It remained necessary to develop a process of integrating the 
general planning and program-building activities of the Department 
and a method of bringing state and local plans to the Department in 
usable form. The combined result would guide all the land-use activ- 
ities of the Department. On October 6, 1938, therefore, the Secretary 
announced a fundamental reorganization of the Department. 90 Many 
realignments were made in order to bring related functions together, 
but primarily the object was to provide unified departmental planning 
as a guide to action, integration, and collaboration. 

• * • 

90 Department of Agriculture, "Memorandum for Chiefs of Bureaus and Offices," 
October 6, 1938 (mimeo.). See Appendix B, p. 466. 

Land Use 159 

Land utilization has become the central core of a multiple of related 
activities of the Department. Programs that sprang from isolated 
streams of thought, but all significantly influencing private property, 
converged at the farm; there, confronted with the same ecological fac- 
tors and seeking a common objective, they intermeshed. The needs for 
coordination caused the creation of significant devices for intradepart- 
mental and interdepartmental coordination and federal-state collabo- 
ration on land-use problems at areal, watershed, or regional levels and, 
finally, within the Department itself. Ultimately the whole Depart- 
ment underwent a fundamental reorganization in order to meet the 
increasingly urgent demands for better coordination of all land-use 
activities. Comparable coordination with other national agencies, how- 
ever, was yet to be accomplished. 

Chapter 9 

The department's success in showing the farmer how "to make 
two blades of grass grow where one grew before" represents a 
remarkable scientific accomplishment. The production of crops, 
however, is one thing; their disposal, quite another. More and more 
the farmer produced for a market. Indeed, the science of production 
was conducive to a single-crop type of farming; rapid transportation 
made large, though distant, markets accessible for the disposition of 
such crops. More and more the farmer became dependent upon the 
cash he received for his produce; any interference with the process 
whereby he exchanged such produce for cash became increasingly im- 
portant to him. And, since such interferences developed, the farmer 
pressed for help from his government. The national government's re- 
sponse to these demands was reflected in part by the number of the 
Department's activities directed to marketing and distribution. As a 
group they constituted another one of the important clusters within 
the Department. 

We use the two terms "marketing" and "distribution" because, 
though they and the activities connected with each are intimately re- 
lated, they connote distinctions which should be kept in mind for an 
understanding of the developments in this area. "Marketing" refers 
to the multiple process of moving goods from the producer to the con- 
sumer: to trade transactions and to the basic adjuncts — transportation, 
storage, and other services — that facilitate such transactions. "Distribu- 
tion" refers to that part of the economic system whereby services and 
the fruits of production are made available for the use of the consumer. 


The Department's more substantial marketing activities began to 
develop in the late seventies of the nineteenth century. They reflected 
pressures arising usually from particular problems incident to the mar- 
keting of specific commodities or groups of commodities, though some 
were calculated to protect the farmer or the public as consumer. In toto 
they covered different aspects of the marketing process; hence it is 
desirable to group them in logical divisions. Unfortunately, however, 


Marketing and Distribution 161 

this grouping is a difficult task, for any classification would, perforce, be 
arbitrary and would not eliminate overlappings. 1 A classification may 
be based upon the original emphasis of each development; accordingly, 
the marketing functions may conveniently be divided into the follow- 
ing groupings: protection of the farmers' market, both at home and 
abroad, by policing grades and minimum standards; improvement of 
marketing practices and transactions in the interest of the producer; 
protection of the farmer as consumer of essential farm commodities; 
consumer protection; and price maintenance. 

We offer this classification because it indicates the diversified origins 
of the Department's marketing work. We hasten to emphasize, how- 
ever, that in actual practice overlappings were extensive; an activity 
originating as part of one group frequently developed to embrace one 
or more of the others; some covered more than one group from the 
beginning. Generally, however, original authorizing legislation was 
primarily in response to demands for action in one of these five fields, 
and the support of secondary interests was, on occasion, helpful in pre- 
senting a case to Congress. The development of multiple overlappings 
evidenced the coalescent tendency of functions originating separately 
in time and purpose, though actually parts of a single whole. 

An approach to the broader problems of distribution was a later 
development than the Department's marketing functions. Although 
expanding markets, both at home and abroad, created a continuing de- 
mand for agricultural commodities and maintained producers' prices at 
a reasonably profitable level, the farmer was primarily interested in pro- 
duction. When outlets for specific commodities were arbitrarily re- 
stricted, the farmer called for government aid. When trade practices 
disadvantaged the producer, he demanded governmental intervention. 
Though economic crises occurred periodically throughout the nine- 
teenth century, the credo of the times that prosperity would naturally 
return obscured the seriousness of economic maladjustments. Eventually 
these maladjustments would have to be confronted — at a time, too, 
when the farmer, much more dependent upon his cash crop, would 
be less able to withstand the shock. 

1 Leon Henderson, Secretary of the Temporary National Economic Committee and 
member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has suggested an interesting two- 
fold classification applicable to the activities of the whole government: before 1933 the 
emphasis was on producer fortification; after 1933, on consumer fortification. These are 
helpful distinctions but too broad for our immediate purpose; "producer fortification" 
would include all of what we consider the marketing activities of the Department. 
Progress toward consumer fortification necessarily suffered from lack of preparation. 

162 Department of Agriculture 

Importance of Marketing Recognized 

Recognition of the importance of marketing in all its aspects as a 
single problem resulted in the first important study of the subject by 
the United States Industrial Commission in 1900. But it was not until 
1913, when Secretary Wilson recommended to the Congress an investi- 
gation of marketing and the establishment of a division of markets, 
that the broad problems of distribution were given formal recognition. 
An excerpt from the report of the Secretary of Agriculture for 1913 2 is 
particularly significant: 

Just what part of the burden is due to lack of systematic planning, 
or inefficiency and economic waste, or to unfair manipulation, one 
can not say. As difficult as are the problems of production, they are 
relatively simple as compared with those of distribution, and there 
is danger not so much that nothing will be done, but that pressure 
will be brought to bear on the department to take action everywhere 
before it is prepared to act intelligently anywhere. The department 
has given assistance here and there in the past; it is prepared to give 
further assistance and information now, and it has shaped its projects 
and instituted more systematic investigations, which should have re- 
sults of great practical value to individuals and to communities. 

The creation of the Office of Markets and Rural Organization in 1913 
provided general-staff facilities in these important fields. The World 
War, however, resulted in an increased foreign demand for agricultural 
products, and on April 6, 1917, when the United States entered the 
conflict, the country had a limited supply of food for export. 3 The 1916 
production of leading grains, cereals, and potatoes was strikingly small, 

2 Report of the Secretary of Agriculture (1913), p. 19. Eleven years later Sun Yat Sen, 
in San Min Chu I (The Three Principles of the People) gave a brief appraisal of American 
agriculture (pp. 477-78): "Yet has the United States really solved her food problem? 
I do not think that she has. Every year the United States ships vast quantities of food for 
sale in other countries and her food supply is abundant — why, then, do I say that her 
food problem is unsolved? Because agriculture in the United States is still controlled by 
capitalists. Under the system of private capital which still exists, methods of production 
are over-developed, while no attention at all is paid to proper methods of distribution. So 
the problem of livelihood cannot be solved. In order to reach a solution, we must not only 
deal with questions of production but must also lay emphasis upon the questions of dis- 
tribution. Equitable methods of distribution are impossible under a system of private 
capital, for under such a system all production heads towards one goal — profit. Since the 
production of food aims at profit, when food prices are low in the native country, the 
food will be shipped for sale and greater profits abroad. Just because private individuals 
want to make more money ! Even when there is a native famine, when the people are short 
of food and many are starving, these private capitalists are not concerned. With such 
methods of distribution, which aim wholly at profit, the problem of livelihood can never 
be well solved." 

8 This change in demand is another example of the way in which the World War inter- 
rupted well-established efforts toward readjustments. 


Marketing and Distribution 163 

and the supply, particularly of wheat, was inadequate to meet the 
needs of the Allies. Competitive purchasing by foreign governments, 
speculation, and manipulations caused food prices to rise rapidly to a 
point that caused serious hardships to the population. The emphasis 
shifted to production. 

Distribution Problem Noticed 

It is not surprising, therefore, that the Joint Commission of Agri- 
cultural Inquiry created by Congress to investigate the postwar agri- 
cultural crisis stated: 4 

There were practically no fundamental data of governmental or 
public character with respect to marketing and distribution and it was 
therefore necessary for the commission to undertake a pioneering 
effort to secure from original sources the basic facts upon which a 
consideration of the problems of distribution might be predicated. 

In summarizing its findings and in making recommendations the Com- 
mission came close to our concept of distribution, 5 though still from 
the producer's angle: 

The commission is convinced that the problem of distribution is one 
of the most important economic problems before the American peo- 
ple, and that only through its solution can there be an equitable 
adjustment among agriculture, industry, transportation, labor, finance, 

4 Marketing and Distribution, Report of the Joint Commission of Agricultural Inquiry, 
House Report No. 408, 67th Cong., 1st sess. (1922). 

6 Robert S. Lynd, Knowledge for What? (1939), pp. 4, 12. In the national economy dis- 
tribution must also include the process of placing in the hands of the consumer the means 
of purchasing, or of otherwise getting the benefits of production and marketing, and of 
educating him to choose wisely those things that will give him the greatest values. Dis- 
tribution should be conceived from the consumer's, as well as the producer's, point of 
view. Mr. Lynd states (p. 147), that "The position of consumption in economic science 
is a crucial instance of how important problems are crowded out of view in a science 
which defines its field as economics does. It is one of the inevitable commonplaces that 
everyone accepts as 'right in theory' that all our economic processes are not ends in 
themselves but instrumental to the ends of human living; and, within this broad 
generalization, production is not an end in itself but instrumental to the use of commodities 
to serve the ends of living. Adam Smith stated this unequivocally when the science of 
economics was setting out on its long career: 'Consumption,' he said, 'is the sole end and 
purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only 
so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. The maxim is so per- 
fectly self-evident that it would be absurd to attempt to prove it.' And so it is. Subse- 
quent economists have rarely challenged this statement. They have, in the main, said 
'Of course!' and turned to the business in hand. For they and their science are but children 
of a culture. And in Adam Smith's time, as today, that culture was engaged in the grand 
adventure of growing rich. Smith goes on to point out in his next sentence the contradic- 
tion between theory and practice: 'But in the mercantile system, the interest of the con- 
sumer is almost constandy sacrificed to that of the producer; and it seems to consider pro- 
duction, and not consumption, as the ultimate end and object of all industry and 
commerce.' " 

164 Department of Agriculture 

and commerce. The public is so accustomed to the conveniences of 
modern service that it seldom, if ever, recognizes the fact that the 
most simple purchase contains the romance of industry, commerce, 
and human progress. Nor is the public prepared to realize that not only 
must the producer receive proper compensation for the raw materials 
but that out of the charge for service along the way the men who 
operate railroad trains, drive trucks, operate machines, nail boxes, 
wrap packages, and the men who make deliveries must be enabled 
to purchase the finished commodity for their families. 
Therefore, the solution of the problem of distribution must be secured 
through a betterment of methods and an elimination of wastes and 
uneconomic practices. A better system of distribution can only be 
hoped for through a more intelligent study of methods, facilities, 
and purposes. 

It is the responsibility of the entire people to make such adjustment 
of custom and habit as will permit the development and establish- 
ment of a system of economic distribution which will result in a more 
equitable relationship between what the producer receives and what 
the consumer pays. 

Permanent solutions of the problems of distribution must come as a 
result of a higher standard of knowledge and ability on the part of 
producers, manufacturers, transporters, storers, and distributors, and 
a more enlightened recognition of their obligation to the public. 

The farm problem was explored again by the Agricultural Con- 
ference of 1922. Individuals and committees grappled with different 
aspects of the problem, including land use and rural life, but the major 
emphasis was upon marketing. Farmer cooperatives and better and 
more complete economic information for the farmer were supported 
as the most favorable and immediate solutions. Throughout the fol- 
lowing decade these aids continued to be the main hope for agricultural 
salvation. The Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929 and the Farm Board 
have already been discussed. 6 There was, as yet, no positive approach 
to the broader field of distribution, but the current of thought embrac- 
ing the concept of parity prices inevitably led into the whole national 

Interrelationship of All Economic Problems Realized 

After 1933 the national government initiated and carried forward a 
number of programs in an effort to correct the evils of economic mal- 
adjustments of long standing. On one great front programs were di- 
rected at the farm problems; on another, at unemployment and want; 

6 See above, pp. 64 ff. 

Marketing and Distribution 165 

and on still another, at credit and finance. Increasingly it became clear 
that all were attacks upon a single problem. Agriculture depended upon 
industry and employment; industry and the city depended upon agri- 
culture and the rural area; and all required credit on fair terms. Want 
existed amidst plenty; the distributive system had fallen short of the 
needs of a nation; if that system were improved, all parts of our economy 
would benefit. 

Thus, on February 18, 1939, at a conference of agriculture, industry, 
and labor, the Secretary of Agriculture included in his address the 
statement that from agriculture's standpoint "it is absolutely vital that 
the leaders of industry and the leaders of labor get together with the 
leaders of agriculture and the leaders of government to achieve abundant 
production, abundant distribution, and abundant consumption of the 
products of both farm and city." 7 All groups, he said, should clear their 
policies through a central clearinghouse, the establishment of which he 
urged in order to test all policies "in the light of the general welfare." 

Within the Department we observed during the course of this study 
an increasing emphasis on "the other half of the farm problem" and a 
tendency to direct its efforts more sharply to the national problems of 
distribution. In the reorganization of 1938-39 the Department's ac- 
tivities in this area were not integrated to the same extent as the land-use 
activities. Facilities were provided, however, that would help to bring 
some, at least, of these activities closer together and also would help 
to integrate them with the land-use programs. It is logical that these 
activities merge: they are parts of a whole. 

The farmer has been concerned primarily with his immediate prob- 
lems: in the past he saw the specific problems of marketing; currently 
he has been confronted with the realization that his destiny is related 
inextricably to the whole area of distribution. This broader view has 
developed from the specific, and we now turn to this evolution. 


When the Bureau of Animal Industry was created in 1884, important 
responsibilities were added to the Department. After the Bureau's in- 
ception most of its activities were based primarily upon scientific re- 
search; nevertheless, its control and regulatory work was most signifi- 
cant. To make this significance clear, it is necessary briefly to indicate 

7 Henry A. Wallace, "How Agriculture, Industry, Labor, and Government Can Work 
Together for a ioo -Billion-Dollar Income," address at the Third Annual National Farm 
Institute, Des Moines, Iowa, February 18, 1939. 

i66 Department of Agriculture 

the nature of events leading up to the establishment of the Bureau. 8 
For some years suggestions had been made periodically that the na- 
tional and state governments seek to discover means of combating 
animal diseases. On May i, 1883, Dr. D. E. Salmon was called to 
Washington to establish a veterinary division in the Department. There 
was already ample work in this field for an extensive organization. But 
when diseases began not only to add to the cost and hazards of produc- 
tion but also to restrict and complicate the marketing of meat, control 
of animal diseases had to be dealt with on a large scale. 

Control of Animal Diseases 

In 1843 contagious pleuropneumonia was introduced into the United 
States from England; the disease spread quickly to a large area of the 
nation. Local efforts were made to control it as it spread from one state 
to another. On November 27, 1878, an article in the New Yor\ Weekly 
Tribune stressed the importance of concerted action for control and 
elimination of this disease. English newspapers quoted this article with 
a demand for an embargo on American cattle. In January, 1879, a cargo 
of American beef was condemned on its arrival at Liverpool. An inquiry 
was started by the English government, and on February 8, 1879, the 
Privy Council issued an order compelling the slaughter of all American 
cattle on the docks of the English ports at which they were landed. This 
was a serious blow to the cattle industry of the United States because it 
resulted in an immediate lowering in the price of American steers in 
the English market to some ten dollars below the price for comparable 
beef shipped from Canada. At least one hundred thousand cattle were 
affected each year, with a loss of a million dollars annually to the Amer- 
ican cattle industry. Some states were stimulated to increased action 
against this disease, but their individual efforts were disappointing. 

Foreign Restrictions on American Meats 

The extensive exportation of American dressed meats had developed 
rapidly and soon confronted the fears and objections of British producers 
who foresaw increasing competition for the English market. 9 

By 1877 the shipments of dressed beef had increased to about 600 
tons weekly. The success of the experiments caused a sensation in 
England among producers and consumers. Although the quality of 

8 For a more complete account see U. G. Houck and Associates, The Bureau of Animal 
Industry of the United States Department of Agriculture (1924). 
"Ibid., p. 9- 

Marketing and Distribution 167 

our meat was indorsed by the best English authorities, the English 
livestock growers and others immediately endeavored to discourage 
its extensive consumption by attempting to create prejudice against 
the American product. 

In 1879, the year of the embargo on cattle, Great Britain also placed 
restrictions on the importation of sheep, alleging that foot-and-mouth 
disease had been carried into the country. 10 

As this disease had never existed in the United States except in two 
or three instances when cattle landed from England were found to 
be affected with it, and had never been allowed to spread here, it 
seems evident that the sheep in question must have contracted the 
disease on vessels that had previously been infected by English cattle. 

Other nations placed restrictions upon the importation of American 
meats, and reports of the arrival of infected cattle continued, par- 
ticularly from England. The United States government undertook a 
number of investigations to determine the basis of these reports; upon 
microscopic investigation of carcasses most of the complaints were 
shown to be groundless. In 1881 a more extensive investigation was 
authorized by Congress, which confirmed the earlier findings. The 
problems that developed in our export trade have been summarized as 
follows: 11 ' ' 

At this time our export trade was hampered by various impediments. 
Without good and sufficient reasons our cattle were excluded from 
European markets except English markets that were provided with 
facilities for slaughtering the cattle within a limited time at the port 
where they were landed, our pork products were excluded from the 
principal markets of Europe on a frail pretext, and we had no veter- 
inary organization prepared to cope with this serious situation. It 
was apparent, too, that our Government should have veterinary 
representatives stationed in European countries, especially in Eng- 
land, our greatest foreign market. 

10 Ibid., p. 10. 

u Ibid., p. 15. It is interesting to recall the flare-up of debate that followed the President's 
making public a letter to the Secretary of State on April 13, 1939, authorizing the Navy 
Department to purchase 48,000 pounds of Argentine canned beef. This proposal was 
attacked on the grounds that foot-and-mouth disease was known to exist in Argentina. 
The impossibility of importing the disease in canned corned beef was easily answered. 
Congressman Horton stated typically: "Right, but it is possible to can meat from foot- 
and-mouth diseased cattle and that does not sound so attractive. True, such meat may not 
kill a man, but a calf sucking its diseased mother will be dead within 2 days' time." 
Congressional Record, May 15, 1939, p. 7774- Argentina maintained, however, that the 
embargo was thoroughly unfair because foot-and-mouth disease was isolated in small 
areas of the country and that it was possible to ship cattle from the uninfested areas without 
any danger of transmitting the disease. 

168 Department of Agriculture 

U. S. Regulation of Livestock Importation 

Foreign trade in livestock, however, did not flow in one direction 
only: a substantial quantity of cattle was regularly imported into the 
United States. This nation, too, was concerned about the introduction 
of foreign diseases. In 1865, when rinderpest appeared in England for 
the second time, Congress passed an act prohibiting the importation of 
cattle and, by an amendment of March 6, 1866, of all hides of neat 
cattle. It is significant that responsibility for administering this law was 
assigned to the Secretary of the Treasury, who was to issue regulations 
as he deemed necessary. But the first regulation was not issued until 
July 31, 1875, and it applied only to neat cattle shipped from Spain. 
Subsequently other orders were promulgated regarding specific animal 
species or areas, but exceptions were frequently allowed. In 1879, after 
notification of the outbreak of contagious pleuropneumonia in England, 
an order closed every Atlantic port to English cattle. Later this order 
was modified to permit imports after a ninety-day quarantine. 

In 1 88 1 foot-and-mouth disease entered this country with cattle 
shipped from England, though the cattle had been quarantined for 
ninety days. Fortunately, both these outbreaks were brought under 
control, but they constituted dramatic examples that could be used by 
those who did not believe that the Treasury Department should have 
responsibility in this area. 12 

Generally there was a lack of confidence in the ability of the Treasury 
Department to administer efficiently the quarantine laws. It was felt 
that the officials of the Treasury Department did not possess a suf- 
ficient knowledge of animal diseases and that such matters should 
be placed under the supervision and direction of competent veter- 
inarians. Some of the orders of the Treasury Department were 
criticized severely in the public press, as, for instance, the order of 
July 19, 1879. In referring to this order in the August, 1879, issue 
of the National Live Stoc\ Journal, Dr. James Law said: "On the 
basis of these facts the Treasury Department should at once exclude 
all importations, either direct or by way of Canada, not only from 
England but from France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany." The 
editor of the National Live Stoc\ Journal in the August, 1879, issue 
said: "The Treasury Department has promulgated orders that have 
been so silly as to excite the ridicule of the whole country. It has closed 
our Atlantic ports against importations of cattle from England but has 
left an open door for such importations by way of Canada; and while 
this ridiculous show of surveillance has been kept up over importa- 
tions from one country only, no attempt has been made at supervision 

^Houck and Associates, op. cit., p. 31. 

Marketing and Distribution 169 

over those from other European countries that are known to be the 
very hot beds of plague and contagion." 

As a result of these criticisms the Treasury Department appointed a 
cattle commission to advise on the problem of importing foreign cattle. 
The commission was accepted with favor, but since its members acted 
in an advisory capacity while devoting full time to their regular voca- 
tions, it was not completely satisfactory. Regulation of foreign trade in 
livestock and animal products required, it was felt, the establishment 
of a large veterinary organization. 

Domestic Quarantines and the Bureau of Animal Industry 

It was not only foreign trade in meats and livestock that required 
the attention of the national government. We had in this country, 
particularly in the South, extensive infestations of cattle fever, which, 
it was discovered, spread to areas where southern cattle were shipped. 13 
Several states promulgated regulations to control cattle fever, but the 
area of infection continued to spread. An investigation was begun 
under the Department of Agriculture in 1868. In 1883 Dr. Salmon 
located the line at which a quarantine should be established. The suc- 
cess of such a quarantine, however, required a larger organization and 
more money than were available. 

By an act of May 29, 1884, 14 Congress directed the Secretary of 
Agriculture to organize a Bureau of Animal Industry and to appoint 
a chief thereof "who shall be a competent veterinary surgeon" charged 
with the duty of investigating and reporting on "the condition of 
domestic animals and/or livestock . . . their protection and use," of 
inquiring into and reporting on "the causes of contagious, infectious, 
and communicable diseases among them, and the means for the pre- 

Opposition to the transshipment of Texas cattle became so powerful among the 
bordering states that Texas cattlemen were compelled to take to the Mississippi River 
and move their cattle by boat. Cairo, Illinois, became the chief point for the transshipment 
of these cattle. 

14 23 Stat. L. 31. Dr. Houck has summarized the interesting arguments offered by those 
who opposed the passage of this act (Houck and Associates, op. cit., pp. 33-34): "There 
were lawmakers jealous for the rights and powers of the States, who feared that a strong 
Federal bureau would infringe upon the authority of the States. They contended that such 
matters should be left to State action, notwithstanding the fact that with the exceptions of 
Massachusetts and Connecticut no State had been able to cope effectively with contagious 
pleuropneumonia. The familiar question of constitutionality was raised. There were also 
those who saw in the proposed organization nothing but an army of jobholders or a 
political machine, and some objected to the expense. Even the presence of pleuropneumonia 
in the United States was doubted and questioned. The veterinary profession, then struggling 
for recognition in America, came in for ridicule, and objection was made to having a 
'horse doctor' at the head of the proposed bureau." 

170 Department of Agriculture 

vention and cure of the same," and of collecting "such information on 
these subjects as shall be valuable to the agricultural and commercial 
interests of the country." In addition, the act conferred upon the De- 
partment its first regulatory powers. The Secretary was "authorized 
to take such steps and adopt such measures, not inconsistent with the 
provisions of this act, as he may deem necessary" to prevent the exporta- 
tion of livestock and poultry affected with any contagious disease, par- 
ticularly pleuropneumonia; to prepare such rules and regulations as 
might be necessary to suppress and stamp out such diseases; to certify 
them to the respective state or territory and to allocate funds for in- 
vestigations, disinfection, and quarantine measures necessary to prevent 
the spread of any disease from one state to another. The act also pro- 
hibited the transportation in interstate commerce of diseased livestock 
and poultry. 

Extension of the Bureau's Authority 

The Bureau of Animal Industry, at its inception, was primarily an 
agency concerned with aspects of marketing. A large portion of its 
efforts was to be directed to the control of domestic cattle diseases, but 
even the statute, with its emphasis on pleuropneumonia, indicated that 
these efforts were also to be directed to the protection of foreign markets. 
Experience soon demonstrated, however, that the operations under the 
act of 1884 were not adequate to accomplish this basic objective. While 
justification of all foreign complaints about diseases in American meats 
or livestock was doubtful, the existence of such diseases in the country 
could not be denied. Foreign markets continued to be restricted despite 
the Bureau's efforts. This problem could be solved, it was felt, if the 
government would certify that export meats and cattle were free from 
contamination. Cattle and meat-packing interests therefore appealed to 
the government for official certification of the quality of their products 
to be sold abroad. Consequently, by act of August 30, 1890, Congress 
provided for the inspection of meats. 15 This act, however, was limited 
in its application: it provided solely for the inspection of cured meats 
and some live animals. Foreign governments refused to recognize the 
inspection certificates issued pursuant to this act; after Congress' atten- 
tion was called to this condition, it passed a much more extensive meat 
inspection act on March 3, 1891. 

The Secretary was now authorized to inspect all cattle intended for 

15 2 6 Stat. L. 417. 

Marketing and Distribution 171 

export as live animals or as meat products. In addition, the act provided 
for inspection, prior to slaughter, of cattle, sheep, and hogs destined for 
interstate commerce and, in the discretion of the Secretary, post-mortem 
examinations of carcasses destined for human consumption. It became 
unlawful to transport in interstate commerce carcasses or food products 
thereof that had been found unfit for human consumption. But animals 
slaughtered by the farmer on his farm were exempt from the pro- 
visions of this act. Both these meat inspection acts were primarily eco- 
nomic in character and grew out of problems of export trade; the act 
of 1 891 was highly successful in inducing foreign governments to re- 
move their prohibitions against importation of American cattle and 
meat products. Inspection of meats and animals destined for interstate 
commerce and consumer consumption was permissive rather than 
mandatory and hence could be, and was, limited in its application to 
the important abattoirs from which most cattle were exported. This 
act, even with a strengthening amendment of March 2, 1895, did not 
provide for inspection and supervision of the preparation and labeling 
of meat products. Nevertheless, meat inspection grew by leaps and 
bounds and in 1906 reached almost forty-three million animals. 


The consumers' interest in the wholesomeness of meats had been ad- 
vanced over a period of many years and had resulted in the establish- 
ment of local meat inspection in some larger cities. Commissioners of 
Agriculture Capron and LeDuc had reported to Congress the need of 
protecting the public health through regulation of the marketing of 
meats. All these efforts were influential in adding the consumer- 
protection provision to the act of 1891. But it was not until fifteen years 
later that the real demand for complete regulation of the distribution 
of meat arose. 

Meat Inspection "Extended 

Early in 1906 Upton Sinclair's famous novel, The Jungle, appeared. 
While those associated with the meat-packing industry considered the 
story a gross exaggeration of existing conditions, nevertheless the ex- 
tensive circulation of the novel induced concerted agitation for ex- 
tended regulation. The Meat Inspection Act of June 30, 1906, resulted. 16 

16 Actually this legislation was in the form of an amendment — the Beveridge Amendment 
— to the Agricultural Appropriation Act of that year. With the addition of one word — 
"hereafter" — this legislation was reenacted on March 4, 1907, and thus became permanent 

172 Department of Agriculture 

The important difference between this Act and the earlier ones was 
the mandatory provision for 17 

post-mortem examination and inspection of the carcasses and parts 
thereof of all cattle, sheep, swine, and goats to be prepared for human 
consumption at any slaughtering, meat-canning, salting, packing, 
rendering, or similar establishment in any State, Territory, or the 
District of Columbia for transportation or sale as articles of inter- 
state or foreign commerce. 

Thus, meat inspection service was necessarily extended to small estab- 
lishments, which had not previously been reached. 18 

There appears to have been no question about the agency to admin- 
ister the Act. The Bureau of Animal Industry, having had extensive 
experience in the field, was given the responsibility. Thus, an important 
consumer-protection statute of the national government came to be 
administered in the department representing agricultural interests. In 
this connection it is particularly significant to note that the new Act, 
as well as the original farmer-protection meat inspection acts, exempted 
from its provisions "animals slaughtered by any farmer on the farm 
and sold and transported as interstate or foreign commerce." 19 

Regulation of Other Foods Extended 

In the history of the Bureau of Animal Industry we have seen the 
emergence of two important marketing activities : protection of markets 
and protection of consumers. Both were interrelated, but the consumer- 
protection aspect of meat inspection began to approach the broader 
field of distribution. What the consumer gets for his dollar has an 
important bearing on his purchasing power and, hence, on the whole 
distributive system. Campaigns for consumer protection by govern- 
ment regulation had long been undertaken — as in connection with 
animal products — and some of the larger cities had attempted consumer 

The national government had felt the pressure of consumer efforts 

xn Laws Applicable to the United States Department of Agriculture (1935), p. 487. 

18 Dr. Houck points out that the actual increase of inspection under the new Act was 
not very great (Houck and Associates, op. cit., p. 260): "In 1906 the total number of 
cattle, sheep, calves, and swine slaughtered under inspection was 42,901,284, and in 1908 
this total was 53,973,337." 

^Laws Applicable to the United States Department of Agriculture (1935), p. 492. In 
the absence of a clear definition of "farmer" in the original act a large number of small 
wholesale packers and processors, operating as farmers, escaped the provisions of the law. 
An amendment of June 29, 1938, limited the term "farmer" to its customary agricultural 
meaning, 52 Stat. L. 1235. 

Marketing and Distribution 173 

and had enacted food legislation other than that pertaining to meat 
and animal products. Such legislation was based upon the taxing and 
commerce powers of the national government. The Tea Inspection Act 
of March 2, 1897, as well as the meat inspection acts, was based upon 
the commerce power. Tea inspection, however, applied exclusively to an 
import commodity and was assigned to the Bureau of Customs of the 
Treasury Department, though official standards were to be established 
by the Secretary of Agriculture. Under the taxing power legislation was 
passed such as the act of August 2, 1896, which taxed oleomargarine 
and renovated or adulterated butter. Enforcement of legislation that 
sought to tax certain products out of existence — including the act of 
June 6, 1896, which taxed filled cheese, and the act of June 13, 1895, 
which taxed mixed flour — was assigned to the Bureau of Internal 
Revenue. It is important to note here that during this period national 
food legislation, as well as state food legislation, was directed at specific 

In 1896 the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists organized 
a committee on food legislation under the chairmanship of Harvey W. 
Wiley, 20 who, one year later, became chairman also of the committee on 
food standards. The first report by the Referee on Food Adulteration 
appeared in 1897. Under the auspices of the Association of Official 
Agricultural Chemists work was undertaken in food standards and 
adulterations; from 1900 to 1906 the Bureau of Chemistry 21 and the 
Association were both active along these lines. "The work was primarily 
directed towards getting the information necessary for Congress to 
justify the passage of the National Food and Drugs Act." 22 During 
this same period food inspection laboratories were established to co- 
operate with the customs service in the examination of food products 
detained at port of entry until their quality could be determined. Mr. 
Wiley, then Chief of the Division of Chemistry, was one of the leaders 
in the battle for improved food regulation. 23 In this connection Mr. 
Tolman's speculation is of interest: 24 

While I was Chief Chemist of this Bureau I was greatly impressed 
with this power of control by the taxing method, and I often thought 
that if Dr. Wiley had just happened to be attached to the Bureau of 

20 For an interesting account of the background of the Food and Drugs Act see Tolman, 
op. cit., pp. 27-36. 

21 The Division of Chemistry was reorganized into the Bureau of Chemistry in 1902. 

22 Tolman, op. cit., p. 31. 

23 See above, p. 23. 
^Tolman, op. cit., p. 28. 

174 Department of Agriculture 

Internal Revenue or the Treasury Department we might have seen 
an entirely different development of Food Inspection in the United 

In any event it is clear that the work of the Association of Official 
Agricultural Chemists and of the Bureau of Chemistry in food standards 
and inspection, and in supplying information to Congress in support 
of legislation, was influential in bringing to the Bureau of Chemistry 
responsibility for enforcing the Food and Drugs Act. Thus, another of 
the important consumer-protection activities of the national government 
came to be administered by the Department of Agriculture. 

The Food and Drugs Act 

In the breadth of its applicability the Food and Drugs Act of June 
30, 1906, was the most important national consumer-protective effort 
up to that time. The Act was of added importance in offering to ethical 
business concerns protection from the disconcerting competition of 
adulterated and misbranded articles. The law was, however, a com- 
promise reflecting the pressures of antagonistic interests: instead of 
enunciating positive requirements of truthfulness and safety in the pro- 
duction and merchandising of food and drug products, it merely in- 
dicated practices no longer to be permitted. The rise of the cosmetic 
industry and a developing trade in nostrums of peculiar curative prop- 
erties and hopefully appealing body beautifiers found the Act increas- 
ingly inadequate; 25 court decisions further restricted its scope. 

False Labeling and Adulteration of Products Prohibited 

Intermittent attempts were made to strengthen the original Food 
and Drugs Act; 26 it was amended seven times, including the McNary- 

25 "Within two decades after the old Food and Drugs Act went into effect, the conditions 
of American life had changed profoundly. New machinery, new roads, new transporta- 
tion, new knowledge in chemistry and physics had worked together to transfer much food 
preparation from the home kitchen to the factory. At the same time the manufacture of 
much medicine was transferred from the pharmacy to the factory. New ways of living in 
small homes with automatic heating and electric power to do the household chores set a 
large group of American women free from the sun-to-sun household work their grand- 
mothers had taken as a matter of course. One result of this new leisure was that women 
had time to give more thought to their personal appearance. Very quickly, an almost 
wholly new cosmetic industry came into being. It was not subject to any control under 
the old act." Secretary Henry A. Wallace, "The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act," radio 
address, June 29, 1938. 

28 "Experience in connection with the administration of the Food and Drugs Act has 
strikingly emphasized the importance of enforceable standards for foods and drugs. 
Without them it is impossible to carry out completely the purposes of the act. In many 
instances protection of the consumer — the principal object of the law — cannot fully be 
accomplished, nor can unfair practices on the part of unscrupulous manufacturers adequately 

Marketing and Distribution 175 

Mapes Amendment of July 6, 1930, which authorized the establishment 
of reasonable standards for canned foods. Finally, on June 25, 1938, 
after a five-year legislative struggle, Congress passed the Federal Food, 
Drug and Cosmetic Act, conferring considerable regulatory powers on 
the Department. During this long period, however, statutes of more 
direct concern to the farmers conferred much broader regulatory powers. 
While the Food and Drugs Act prohibited the use on any package or 
label of "any statement, design, or device regarding such article, or the 
ingredients or substances contained therein which shall be false or mis- 
leading in any particular," the Meat Inspection Act ordered 27 all meat 
destined for interstate commerce that had been inspected and passed to 
be so labeled and prohibited the use of any label on packaged meat 
until after approval by the Secretary of Agriculture. The Food and 
Drugs Act permitted action against unwholesome or adulterated 
products only when, subsequent to their entrance in interstate trade, 
inspection revealed such conditions. 

The Insecticide Act of April 26, 1910, 28 intended to prevent the manu- 
facture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded insecticides 
and fungicides, followed closely the provisions of the Food and Drugs 
Act, as did the Federal Seed Act of August 24, 1912. 29 The Serum Con- 
trol Act of March 4, 1913, 30 however, gave to the Secretary the power 
to license, to supervise the production, and to regulate the importation 
or interstate shipment of, any virus, serum, toxin, or analagous product 
intended for use in treating domestic animals. 31 The Food, Drug and 
Cosmetic Act of 1938 authorized factory and other inspection only after 

be prevented. In some cases maintenance of prosecution is difficult and expensive, even 
when the articles involved clearly are adulterated or misbranded. To meet this situation, 
I have recommended in the estimates for the fiscal year 191 8 that the Secretary of Agri- 
culture be authorized to establish standards of strength, quality, or purity for articles of 
food and for those articles of drugs which are sold under or by a name not recognized in 
the United States Pharmacopoeia or National Formulary. The suggestion provides that 
if any article fails to conform to the established standards it shall be deemed to be mis- 
branded, unless it is labeled so as plainly and conspicuously to show how it differs from the 

"The adoption of legally enforceable standards will benefit both the consumer and the 
honest manufacturer. They will give consumers exact information as to the quality of food 
and drug products and will enable manufacturers to produce articles which will meet the 
requirements of the act, putting competition on a fairer basis. They will be of great 
assistance to Federal and State officials in the enforcement of food and drug laws and will 
tend to promote uniformity among the various States." Report of the Secretary of Agri- 
culture, 1 91 6, pp. 49-50. 

27 Elmer A. Lewis, Laws Relating to Agriculture (1937), p. 221. 

"36 Stat. L. 331. 

29 37 Stat. L. 506. 

30 37 Stat. L. 833. 

^This Act is administered by the Bureau of Animal Industry. 

176 Department of Agriculture 

permission therefor was obtained from the owner, operator, or cus- 
todian. This practice had previously been applied to the salmon industry 
of the Northwest. By special voluntary agreement inspection and certifi- 
cation were available on a fee basis to the shrimp industry of the Gulf 
of Mexico. Government was thus employed to facilitate the legitimate 
ends of private enterprise. 

Influence of Interest Groups 

The inadequacies of the original Food and Drugs Act and the long 
struggle to strengthen its provisions resulted from the pressures of 
many interest groups, one of the most powerful of which was the farmers 
themselves. They did not support national regulation of food standards 
unless it was clearly demonstrated that such standards were to their 
interest in protecting or developing a market or in raising prices. In 
fact, the farmers strenuously opposed operations under the law that 
inconvenienced them in the disposal of produce. The activities of the 
Food and Drug Administration, 32 for example, in prohibiting the sale 
in interstate commerce of apples retaining a dangerous lead arsenate 
spray residue aroused the antagonism of the apple growers; 33 this 
antagonism was reflected in restricted appropriations for the enforce- 
ment of the Act. The objections of the Administration to the labeling 
of a corn product as syrup because it was misleading to the consumers 
brought forth opposition from corn growers (nurtured by the canners) 
that resulted in a complete change of front by the Food and Drug 
Administration. On the other hand, when the farmer himself was the 
primary consumer of a commodity, such as antitoxin, he demanded 

^The Food and Drug Administration was organized on July 1, 1927, pursuant to 
Congressional action. The Administration enforced the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 
the Caustic Poison Act, the Naval Stores Act, the Tea Act, the Import Milk Act, and the 
Insecticide Act. The Food and Drug Administration was transferred to the Federal Se- 
curity Agency by Reorganization Order No. 4, April, 1940. 

^Note that, while the Food and Drug Administration objected to excessive spray residue, 
other bureaus investigated methods that could be adopted by the farmer to remove such 
residue. See, for example, Department of Agriculture, Removal of Lead Spray Residues 
from Apples Grown in the Shenandoah-Cumberland Valley (Technical Bull. No. 622, 
July, 1938). The Standard Oil Bulletin for March, 1939, states (p. 10): "Once the fruit 
grown in the West was entirely free of worms and pest blemishes, but as population grew 
civilization brought its small plagues of insects and pests. Many orchards became infested, 
making pest control necessary. Varying methods were employed to prevent serious damage 
to crops. 

"Most common was the use of poison sprays, and this form of control continued until 
thirteen years ago, when a number of Chinese became poisoned by the spray which had 
been left on American apples exported to the Orient. Local health boards complained to the 
Federal government and in 1927 it was decided that all fruit which had been sprayed with 
lead arsenate or similar-acting substances should be washed before being sent to market." 

Marketing and Distribution 177 

legislation involving the most extensive regulation of private enter- 
prise. 34 

The policing of marketing by the national government requested by 
farmers extended not only to producers of farm needs and marketers 
of farm products but also to farmers themselves. As we have already 
seen, cattlemen were compelled to recognize the need for quarantines 
and regulations incident to the control of contagious diseases and for 
inspection of meat and livestock destined for interstate and foreign 
trade. Even the farmer with healthy stock had to submit to regulation 
in order to be assured of control of contaminated animals that con- 
stantly threatened his own stock and interfered with his market. This 
policing was, of course, in the farmer's interest, but it also contributed 
to the public interest. The quality, or at least the wholesomeness, of 
livestock improved, and experience with meat inspection for the pro- 
tection of the cattle industry simplified the extension of meat inspec- 
tion for the protection of the consumer. 


Food, Drugs, and Commodities 

Meat inspection sought to eliminate unwholesome meats from trade 
channels. This elimination was all that foreign countries demanded; 
for domestic consumers it was as much as could then be hoped for. As 
other commodities were subjected to governmental inspection, how- 
ever, particular grades based upon established standards of quality 
were to be certified. Shortly before the World War the Department was 
given responsibility for grade and standards work connected with 
many specific agricultural products; only in later years were food 
standards in the interest of the consumer made effective. Development 
of standards and grading is attributable (for specific commodities) to 
two important sources: demands of foreign and domestic buyers for 
uniform and honest measures of quality and demands of domestic pro- 
ducers for commodity prices in accordance with quality. The first source 

34 "There has at times appeared opposition to the publication of some of the facts 
which scientific investigations have revealed. A conspicuous example of such opposition 
is seen in the obstructions which have been placed in the way of publicity and legislation 
with regard to drugs and foods. There is an emphatic demand which will some day express 
itself in unmistakable form for complete investigation of conditions in the field of food and 
drug supplies. When Government becomes as active in securing and supplying information 
to consumers as it is in supplying information to producers there will be established a 
balance of the type which science has always aimed to establish." Draft of the Final Report 
of the Science Committee of the National Resources Committee, pp. 20-21. 

178 Department of Agriculture 

evidences again the coercive power of foreign markets in raising quality 
and in improving practices that eventually benefited all parties. 

Necessity for Definitions of Quality 

As the frontier pressed westward, increased agricultural lands were 
opened to settlement. Concurrently a large output of agricultural 
products developed far from centers of population. The land of the 
Plains beyond the Mississippi was suitable to the raising of grains, and 
in the nineteenth century the distance of large markets encouraged 
production of crops transportable without serious risk of deterioration. 
Gradually the production of grains in the Prairies exceeded the demands 
of domestic markets and developed a surplus for sale abroad. The 
marketing of these crops at great distances from the sources of produc- 
tion involved handling by many agents and resulted in the development 
of sales for future deliveries. Since grain varied in quality and type, 
it became necessary to establish a common language indicating these 
differences and representing values. Buyers and sellers had to agree on 
definitions of quality that could be incorporated into contracts of sale. 
This was a far cry from the days when grain could be sold by sample 
at near-by markets. 

Dealers attempted to develop understandable definitions of quality, 
but these attempts proved inadequate at the large markets where the 
products assembled under many separate contracts came together. 
Chambers of commerce and boards of trade then adopted systems of 
grading and employed inspectors to examine grain, either at its source 
or upon its arrival at a central market. The first grain to be graded in 
the United States was inspected by employees of the Chicago Board of 
Trade in 1857. With an increasing importance of trade in grain, states 
established grading and inspection work. Illinois was the first to adopt 
legislation for such a purpose in 1871; during the next forty-five years 
eight other midwestern states established grain inspection departments. 
Despite these efforts grain marketing down to the World War involved 
ever mounting difficulties. Standards and inspection systems varied from 
state to state and from market to market, and certifications of quality 
by one were not recognized by another. Buyers, as well as dealers, had 
little confidence in the certificates accompanying deliveries of grain. 

Foreign Pressure for Reliable Standards 

The chaotic conditions in grain marketing were as intense domesti- 
cally as abroad. Hence it is significant that protests from foreign markets 

Marketing and Distribution 179 

were primarily responsible for the stimulation of efforts to bring uni- 
formity and integrity into the grading of American grains. Foreign 
complaints became formidable in 1898 when European trade organiza- 
tions, dealers, importers, and millers vehemently protested the un- 
reliability of grain merchandising practices in the United States. The 
situation became even worse : by 1906 certificates from certain American 
markets were not only completely refused by European countries, but 
complaints were lodged with our State Department. 

In 190 1 the Department of Agriculture, recognizing the seriousness 
of grain-marketing conditions, organized a research project on the 
structure of commercial grain standards and the methods of their ap- 
plication. The following year the Congress appropriated funds that 
were allocated to the Bureau of Plant Industry for the investigation 
of the varieties of wheat in order to standardize their identification as 
an aid to commercial grading. Further investigations were authorized 
in 1906; as a result, permissive federal standards for shelled corn were 
established in 1913. 35 These standards were adopted by many state and 
commercial grain inspection divisions, but they continued to be ap- 
plied without uniformity. From 1903 to 1916 demands for uniform 
grades and inspection were reflected in twenty-six bills authorizing 
either federal supervision of grain inspection or outright inspection by 
the national government. Finally, on August 11, 1916, the United 
States Grain Standards Act 36 was enacted. It provided for the establish- 
ment and promulgation of "standards of quality and condition for corn 
(maize), wheat, rye, oats, barley, flaxseed, and such other grains as in 
his [the Secretary of Agriculture's] judgment the usages of the trade 
may warrant and permit"; it prohibited interstate or foreign commerce 
in grains for which standards were established unless inspected and 
graded by a licensee under the Act. 

The national government itself had not, at least up to 1940, employed 
grain inspectors. But since most graded grain moved in interstate or 
foreign commerce, it became necessary, for practical purposes, that all 
grain inspectors be licensed. Hence the Department effectively super- 
vised the grain inspection of the nation. And since state or private agen- 
cies employed most inspectors, the administration of grain inspection, 
and subsequently the inspection of other commodities, involved signifi- 
cant national-state-local and private relations. Standards of competence 

85 Considerable research preceded the passage of the Grain Standards Act, whose ex- 
peditious application was facilitated by the findings. 
36 39 Stat. L. 482. 

180 Department of Agriculture 

for persons seeking licenses from the national government compelled a 
general rise in the quality of personnel engaged in the work. Further- 
more, it was significant that any person financially interested in a lot 
of grain might appeal, through the local grain supervisor, to the 
Secretary of Agriculture for a review of the grade applied by an in- 
spector — even when the inspector was a state employee. 37 

A later example of foreign pressure leading to commodity standards 
and inspection was the Export Apple and Pear Act of 1933. 38 The 
passage of this Act was an effort to restore the foreign trade in apples 
and pears, which had seriously declined because of inferior quality 
fruit. The Act prohibited foreign commerce in apples or pears "in 
packages which are not accompanied by a certificate issued under 
authority of the Secretary of Agriculture showing that such apples or 
pears are of a Federal or State grade which meets the minimum of 
quality established by the Secretary for shipment in export." The 
Secretary was also authorized to prescribe minimum requirements, 
other than of grade, that had to be met before certificates were issued; 
furthermore, if a foreign government had standards or requirements 
applying to imported fruits, he might "inspect and certify for determina- 
tion as to compliance with the standards or requirements of such foreign 
government and . . . provide for special certificates in such cases." 

We have noted that while meat inspection — and to some degree, 
grain inspection — was introduced largely because of foreign pressures, 
its application was extended to interstate as well as to foreign com- 
merce. The Export Apple and Pear Act, like the act of May 23, 1908, 39 
which extended the export provisions of the meat inspection acts to 
dairy products, applied exclusively to produce destined for export. 
Eventually standards for some dairy products were applied to that por- 
tion of them that moved in interstate commerce, and voluntary inspec- 
tion and grading of pears and apples were authorized by the Perish- 
able Agricultural Commodities Act. But no effective supervision of 
the marketing of these fruits in the interest of the general public had 
been established by 1938. 40 Nevertheless, the promulgation of standards 

37 For further discussion of grain standards see The Service of Federal Grain Standards, 
Department of Agriculture, Misc. Pub. No. 328; and Grain Grading Primer, Misc. Pub. 
No. 325. 

38 48 Stat. L. 123. 

29 35 Stat. L. 234. 

40 At a conference of apple growers in June, 1938, P. R. Taylor, Chief of the General 
Crop Section, Marketing Division, A.A.A., suggested that the Export Act might be amended 
to apply to interstate as well as to foreign commerce and thereby to provide national super- 
vision over interstate marketing of pears and apples with a view to eliminate from channels 

Marketing and Distribution 181 

appeared to result in a general improvement in the quality of some of 
the affected commodities. The establishment of prices in accordance 
with quality, even though applicable exclusively to exports, was a 
positive incentive to producer efforts toward higher standards. World 
prices markedly affect, if they do not govern, domestic prices. Thus, 
the general public benefited from this type of marketing regulation. 

Pressure by Producers on the Department 

Further pressure for grades and standards activities in the Depart- 
ment emanated from producers who were dissatisfied with prices 
received at distant markets for their commodities. Those prices varied 
measurably according to quality; 41 without definite standards and cer- 
tification in accordance with them, however, the farmer was practically 
unable to protect his interest. Before the World War this price varia- 
tion was particularly severe for cotton and other commodities ordinarily 
stored in warehouses, as well as for grain. The marketing of cotton, 
particularly by the sale of futures, had been subjected to many ir- 
regularities disadvantaging the producer. Among other complaints the 
farmer insisted that he was not receiving prices reflecting the quality of 
his cotton. The Cotton Futures Act of 1914 (as revised and reenacted 
on August 11, 1916) 42 imposed a tax upon all sales of cotton for future 
delivery unless the contract of sale met certain conditions, one of which 
was a statement of the grade of cotton involved in the transaction. 
The specified grade must be one for which standards had been 
established by the Secretary of Agriculture. We should emphasize the 
use of the taxing power here. Since a large proportion of the marketing 
operations sought to be regulated were intrastate, the commerce power 
would not support adequate national efforts. 

Further Standards Legislation 

The Warehouse Act of 1916, 43 in addition to empowering the Secre- 
tary to issue licenses to warehouses, authorized the establishment of 
standards for agricultural products, required inspection and grading of 
fungible products stored for interstate or foreign commerce, or in a 

of trade the very low grades that gave practically no net return to the producer and little 
benefit to the consumer. It should also be noted that apples were expressly exempt from 
the operations of the Marketing Agreement Act. 

41 Commodities, such as tobacco, which are sold at auction are subject to wide price 

^39 Stat. L. 476. 

"39 Stat. L. 486. 

1 82 Department of Agriculture 

warehouse under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, and 
provided grade and other inspection services on a fee basis. Inspectors 
were to be licensed by the Secretary. 

Additional standards and grade inspection were authorized by legis- 
lation not yet referred to, including the Cotton Standards Act of 1923, 
the Special Appropriation Act of May 17, 1928, relating to the promotion 
of federal wool grades, the Tobacco Statistics Act of 1929, the Tobacco 
Inspection Act of 1935, the Commodity Exchange Act of 1934, and the 
Peanut Stocks and Standards Act of 1936. The general objective of these 
measures was the protection of the producer in the markets; authority 
was based upon the commerce power; application was compulsory or 
voluntary; and inspection, on a fee basis, was performed either by 
licensees or employees of the Department or in cooperation with state 
or local agencies. 

New developments about tobacco should be noted. In 1929, as an 
aid to tobacco growers, Congress 44 authorized the collection and 
publication of tobacco statistics showing quantities on hand according 
to grades. The Secretary was authorized to promulgate standards and 
to distribute and demonstrate samples of such standards. In cooperation 
with state agencies a tobacco inspection service was established on a 
fee basis. Subsequently the Tobacco Inspection Act of 1935 45 was 
enacted; it was designed to eliminate speculation, manipulation, and 
control of the sale of tobacco at auction markets. It authorized the 
Secretary "to designate those auction markets where tobacco bought 
and sold thereon at auction, or the products customarily manufactured 
therefrom, moves in commerce," but no market could be so designated 
unless, by referendum, two-thirds of the producers favored it. At such 
markets inspection and grading of tobacco were to be provided without 
charge. Thus, for the first time grade inspection on a permanent basis 
was offered without expense to the producer; 46 then, too, his participa- 
tion in the selection of these markets indicated an extension of de- 
mocratization in the administration of farm programs. 

**45 Stat. L. 1079. 

i5 49 Stat.L. 731. 

46 For an interesting discussion of tobacco marketing and inspection see an address by 
the Hon. Frank Hancock of North Carolina, "The Truth About the Tobacco-Grading or 
Inspection Bill," Congressional Record, May 11, 1938, p. 8847. In justifying free inspec- 
tion he makes this statement: "When one stops to consider the exorbitant and uncon- 
scionable tax which the Federal Government exacts from the tobacco growers, we realize 
that no group of farmers has a better claim upon Congress for assistance in solving its 
marketing problems than the tobacco growers. They are the producers of the only 
agricultural commodity which provides a basis for revenue to the Government." 

Marketing and Distribution 183 

Grades and Standards Beneficial to Consumer 

We have already noted that grades and standards developed to pro- 
tect the producer were also beneficial to the consumer, for whose pro- 
tection additional standards were developed. By 1906 the Department 
in collaboration with the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists 47 
had established standards for some two hundred items. It was originally 
proposed that the Food and Drugs Act authorize the further establish- 
ment of such standards. Such a provision was, in fact, included in the 
bill as reported out of the House committee, but it was struck out in 
conference. Since violent opposition to the provision had developed 
from special interest groups, 48 Mr. Wiley yielded, fearing, on the one 
hand, that the bill would not pass with a standards clause and, on the 
other hand, believing that standards could be fixed under the authority 
of the annual appropriation acts. "However, no sooner was the Food 
and Drugs Act passed than the clause in the appropriation bill then 
pending — which was, of course, legislation — was eliminated on a point 
of order in the House." 49 Although the standards previously drawn 
up remained, their effectiveness was rendered innocuous by subsequent 
court decisions. Efforts to correct this serious shortcoming in the Act 
were of no avail until twenty-four years later, when the McNary-Mapes 
Amendment gave the Secretary authority to establish and promulgate 
from time to time reasonable standards for each class of canned goods 
in order to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of the 

The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 extended the authority 
to promulgate standards of quality and fill of container and added the 
power to apply a reasonable definition and standard of identity to all 
foods except dried or fresh fruits, vegetables, and butter. 50 Standards, 
which under the old law were merely advisory, were now to have legal 
force. In effect, such standards established minimum requirements of 
quality; they did not provide for identification of quality by grade. 
The battle for grade-labeling continued. While grade-labeling was used 
extensively by wholesalers and by canners who sold their merchandise 

* 7 A committee created for this purpose was supplemented in 1905 by the appointment 
of a representative of the Association of Dairy, Food and Drug Officials. 

48 An interesting account of this and other facts connected with the history of food and 
drug administration is recorded in Ruth deForest Lamb, American Chamber of Horrors 
(1936). See also Will Maslow, "Poor Food and Drug Laws," National Lawyers Guild 
Quarterly, April, 1939. 

49 Lamb, American Chamber of Horrors (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1936), p. 147. 
60 A standard for butter had been established by legislation in 1923: 42 Stat. L. 1500. , 

184 Department of Agriculture 

in Canada, where such labeling was required, 51 the extension of the 
service to domestic consumers was of little consequence except for meats. 
Meat grading was first established during the World War for the 
benefit of the Army, Navy, and Allies. It should be noted that the 
Department had standards available for use at that time, pursuant to 
earlier legislation authorizing the acquisition and diffusion of informa- 
tion on the grading of farm products and the reporting of markets for 
meats and livestock according to quality. In 1923 a special meat-grading 
service was established in the Department for the United States Steam- 
ship Lines, which had found it impossible to obtain the quality of meats 
demanded by their patrons by ordinary purchasing methods. The suc- 
cess of this service was evidenced in its adoption by other steamship 
lines, hotels, restaurants, railroads, local governments, and institutions. 
Grading and stamping of meats for the consumer was started experi- 
mentally in 1927 at the request of the Better Beef Association; one 
year later, after demonstrable success, this service was made per- 
manently available for a nominal charge at designated markets. While 
it was particularly valuable to the consumer, it was admittedly instigated 
and was continued for the benefit of the producer. 52 

The purpose or objective of the Federal meat grading service is 
more far reaching than the immediate duty of rendering the best 
grading service possible to the trade and consumers. Its purpose is 

51 "At the hearings on the code of the canned dog-food industry the need of quality 
standards and grade labeling on dog food was very easily impressed on all concerned. The 
result was that effective provision for this was written into that Code. One of the para- 
graphs reads: 'The Code Authority shall establish reasonable definitions and reasonable 
standards of identity and biological value for canned dog food, necessary to prevent decep- 
tion, fraud and unfair competition in the sale of canned dog food. Within 90 days after 
the date when this Code becomes effective the Code Authority shall present to the Ad- 
ministrator recommended standards and a plan for their enforcement.' 

"Very different was the outcome of the hearings on the code for the industry which cans 
foods for humans. Although representatives of twenty-one consumer groups testified to the 
need and desire of such labeling, a very solid front of opposition was put up by the industry 
and the accomplishments in this direction are as yet very meager. Fido is to be protected 
by grade labels on his canned food, but not Fido's owner! Incidentally, twenty-one con- 
sumer representatives were quite an array when we consider how very poorly organized 
and inarticulate the consumer is." Ruth O'Brien, "Standards for Consumers' Goods," 
paper read at the Boston Conference on Distribution, September 25, 1934, pp. 7-8 

52 Department of Agriculture, statement by C. V. Whalin before the General Welfare 
Committee of the New York City Council Regarding the Federal Meat Grading Service, 
June 16, 1938, p. 2 (mimeo.). Departmental publications on meat grading include: 
Grading Dressed Turkeys (Farmers' Bull. 1815); Beef Grading and Stamping Service 
(Leaflet 67); U. S. Graded and Stamped Meat (Leaflet 122); Marked Classes and Grades 
of Calves and Vealers (Circ. 28); Marked Classes and Grades of Dressed Veal and Calf 
Carcasses (Circ. 103); Marked Classes and Grades of Dressed Beef (Department Bull. 
1246); Grading Up Beef Cattle at Sni-A-Bar Farms (Misc. Circ. 74); and others. 

Marketing and Distribution 185 

to facilitate the marketing of meats and therefore livestock according 
to their commercial values. The market value of livestock by grades 
is determined by the market value of the meat by grades. The grade 
of the animal is the grade of its meat and the price of that meat by 
grade is determined by what the consumer will pay for it. The re- 
tailer will pay in line with what he can get from the consumer. The 
wholesaler and jobber will pay the packer in line with what he can 
get from the retailer, and the packer pays the farmer in proportion 
to what he estimates he can get for the meat and byproducts. There 
are different classes of catde, for instance, with different qualities 
within each class, and there is a wide range of quality in their meats 
from the best to the poorest. This wide range of quality has a cor- 
responding wide range in value or price. The entire range in quality 
is therefore divided into a sufficient number of segments, called 
grades, that the quality of meat within each is essentially similar and 
therefore, under normal conditions sells within a narrow price range. 
The grades therefore facilitate selection, pricing, and trading. 

The producer should be paid in proportion to the quality or value of 
his animal. Consumer demand for class and quality, adjusted of 
course to supply, determines the value of the meat and therefore the 
value of the animal according to quality. 

This argument has frequently been offered by those who sought 
grade-labeling of other commodities for consumers' information. It 
reveals the fundamental interrelationship of different segments of our 
economy: producer, marketer, and consumer. At the same time its use 
by consumer representatives indicates the apparent necessity of winning 
farmer support for such an activity. 


Benefits to the whole economy are particularly apparent in the de- 
velopment of standard containers. Where such standards are in opera- 
tion the consumer is protected from fraudulent short measures and 
benefits from the reduced cost of manufacture. The grower or shipper 
benefits also from lower costs and from protection against those who 
would compete on the basis of short packages. Production is simplified 
for the manufacturers who can further reduce costs by stocking rela- 
tively few sizes. Transportation is simplified through greater facility in 
packing and through less risk of damage in transit. Confusion over 
nonstandard containers is generally eliminated. Despite these advan- 
tages the number of standardized containers was still limited in 1939. 

The promulgation of standards for containers by the national gov- 
ernment has been based upon the constitutional powers to regulate 

1 86 Department of Agriculture 

commerce and to fix weights and measures. The first power extends, 
of course, only to interstate and foreign commerce; the second includes 
intrastate commerce as well. Based upon the commerce clause were the 
Standard Barrel Act of 1912 and the Standard Containers Act of 1916; 
based upon the weights and measures power were the Standard Barrel 
Act of 1915 and the Standard Containers Act of 1928. The administra- 
tion of standard containers was, it should be noted, divided between two 
departments: the Bureau of Standards of the Department of Com- 
merce administering the Standard Barrel Acts (for fruits, vegetables, 
and other dry commodities) and the Department of Agriculture ad- 
ministering the Standard Containers Acts. An argument supporting 
the assignment of such responsibility to Agriculture was expressed in 
the Report of the Joint Commission of Agricultural Inquiry : 53 

The producer is most vitally concerned in the proper preparation of 
his product for market and his success depends in a measure upon 
the reputation for quality and uniformity which the product earns. 
Therefore, as a general rule it seems that the grower, acting either 
individually or cooperatively, rather than the buyer, should supervise 
the packing and grading of fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Up to 1938, however, no federal standards were in force for crates, 
boxes, cartons, drums, and sacks, in which most fruits and vegetables 
were supplied. 


Grades and standards helped protect the farmer's market and gave 
him some assurance that he would be paid for his produce in accordance 
with its quality. As he became increasingly dependent upon large and 
impersonal markets he was confronted with a mounting list of abusive 
practices which cut into his net returns and against which he, as an indi- 
vidual, was virtually helpless. Beginning in 1914 several statutes 54 
designed to protect the producer were assigned to the Department for 
administration; thus, policing of markets and exchanges was added to 
its responsibilities. A brief discussion of one of these statutes, the 
Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, will indicate problems of interest 
to students of public administration. 

The roots from which this Act sprang extend back to the latter part 
of the nineteenth century. The meat-packing industry was, with rail- 

53 Marketing and Distribution (1922), p. 73. 

B4 The Cotton Futures Act of 191 4, Warehouse Act of 191 6, Packers and Stockyards Act 
of 1 92 1, Produce Agency Act of 1921, Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930, 
and the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936. 

Marketing and Distribution 187 

roads and other incorporated interests including banking and market- 
ing agencies, the beneficiary of the stupefying prosperity that grew 
out of the rapid expansion of the nation during that era. Generally as- 
sociated with this prosperity were various practices that aroused wide- 
spread resentment, direct results of which were the Interstate Commerce 
Act and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Under the latter Act the national 
government sought to curb the monopolistic practices of the meat 
packers, which were disadvantageous both to consumer and producer. 
In 1903 the "big five" among the meat packers were enjoined from 
conspiring in restraint of trade. 55 This decree, however, was only 
temporarily beneficial; within ten years criminal proceedings were 
instituted against the same packers, though unsuccessfully. Gradually 
it was realized that the packers' trust could not effectively be broken 
through proceedings pursuant to antitrust laws. Specific legislation 
dealing exclusively with the packers was called for, and a series of 
bills was introduced into Congress. 

On February 7, 1917, President Wilson directed the Federal Trade 
Commission to investigate the meat-packing industry. The final report 
substantiated most of the charges against the packers: a monopoly and 
practices unfair to producer and consumer were found to exist. The 
report pointed out that the monopoly of the "big five" extended beyond 
their packing activity and included effective control of trade from the 
producer to the consumer, largely through the ownership of a control- 
ling interest in the important stockyards of the country. Through control 
of stockyards the packers also dominated dealers and commission mer- 
chants. 56 

Control of stockyards comprehends control of livestock exchange 
buildings where commission men have their offices; control of assign- 
ment of pens to commission men; control of banks and cattle loan 
companies; . . . and in most cases control of all packing house and 
other business sites. 

Subsequently a bill was introduced into Congress that in 192 1 be- 
came the Packers and Stockyards Act. 57 

While the bill was pending before the House Committee on Agri- 
culture, a new antitrust proceeding was filed against the packers, 

55 Swift & Co. v. United States, 122 Fed. 519 (1903); affirmed 196 U.S. 375 (1905). 

56 Summary of Report of the Federal Trade Commission on Meat Packing Industry, July 
3, 191 8; quoted in Department of Agriculture, "Administrative Procedure and Practice 
in the Department of Agriculture Under the Packers and Stockyards Act, 1921" (mimeo.), 
prepared by Ashley Sellers, pp. 4-5. 

57 Ibid., pp. 5-6. 

188 Department of Agriculture 

who immediately consented to the entry of a decree enjoining them 
from much of the illegal activity alleged in the bill. News of the 
entry of this decree, "like a clap of thunder out of a clear blue sky," 
reached the Committee in the midst of its deliberations on the bill, 
and undoubtedly exercised a tremendous influence over the decision 
of first the Committee and subsequently that of Congress as a whole. 
Despite the personal appearance of the Attorney General before the 
Committee to recommend the defeat of the pending bill on the 
ground that the decree had eliminated the evils in the packing indus- 
try, the general reaction to the decree was unfavorable, and the effect 
of its entry, if anything, was to hasten the passage of this legislation. 
There was a dominant belief that no mere judicial decree could curb 
the illegal practices of the packers. The suspicion persisted that the 
packers had consented to the injunction principally to forestall legis- 
lative action against them, and only the most optimistic believers in 
the efficacy of the antitrust laws and their enforcement by judicial 
process were disposed to entrust the whole case against the packers 
to the vigilance of the Department of Justice. Sponsors of the pend- 
ing bill adroitly proclaimed the inadequacy of the antitrust laws 
and their lukewarm reception by courts generally. If the packing 
monopoly was to be successfully dealt with, additional machinery was 
required. An administrative agency such as was already in operation 
in other fields of regulation quite naturally was suggested for the pur- 
pose. Under such circumstances, the bill became law. 

The delegation of the administration of this Act to the Department was 
largely fortuitous. Efforts were made to name the Federal Trade Com- 
mission as the enforcing agency, but the existence in the Bureau of 
Animal Industry of a corps of veterinarians whose experience had given 
them a familiarity with the farmer won the day. 

The original Packers and Stockyards Act really embraced two sub- 
jects. One dealt with the regulation of packers; the other, with the 
regulation of stockyards and transactions at stockyards. The first part 
prohibited specific practices and charged the Secretary of Agriculture to 
make formal complaint against any packer whom he believed to be 
violating the law. Contrary to the procedure under the antitrust acts, 
which called for an action before a court of law, the Secretary was au- 
thorized to conduct a full hearing on the complaint and, upon finding a 
violation, to order the packer to cease and desist from the practice. 
From his determination appeal could be taken to the circuit court of 
appeals and, by writ of certiorari, to the United States Supreme Court. 

Under the second part of the Act the Secretary, within certain limita- 
tions, was authorized to determine the stockyards to which the Act 
was applicable and subsequently to obtain complete information on the 

Marketing and Distribution 189 

identity, activities, and practices of each operator in them. Within each 
of such stockyards every owner and market agency was required to 
furnish reasonable and nondiscriminatory services at just rates and 
under just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory practices. Again, the 
Secretary was given extensive responsibilities and powers exercisable 
after full notice and hearing, though enforcement of his orders, de- 
terminations, and penalties required action in a federal district court. 
In 1935 the Act was amended by the addition of a new title pertaining 
to the live-poultry industry. This amendment followed exposures of 
racketeering in the poultry industry, which were as costly to the pro- 
ducer and consumer as the meat-packing monopolies of earlier years. 
It may be emphasized that this legislation developed only after the 
inadequacies of antitrust laws were demonstrated. That the antitrust 
legislation came first, and from the same roots, makes clear that these 
were problems of the whole economy and were not exclusively agri- 
cultural. We may only speculate on the Department's role in the regula- 
tion of markets and exchanges had the antitrust and trade-practice legis- 
lation proved more adequate. The Department has, however, been 
authorized to administer a large number of market and exchange 
regulatory statutes and has thus been given extensive rule-making and 
adjudicative responsibilities involving complex administrative prob- 
lems. 58 That the Department, representing a particular group, has been 
given a major part in the policing of markets and exchanges, which 
affects all groups, underscores the importance of its regard for the 
public interest in harmonizing the pressures placed upon it. 

58 For general discussion of this subject see John Dickinson, Administrative Justice and the 
Supremacy of Law in the United States (1927); Frederick F. Blachly and Miriam E. 
Oatman, Administrative Legislation and Adjudication (1934), Federal Regulatory Action 
and Control (1940); W. A. Robson, Justice and Administrative Law (1928); Lord 
Hewart, The New Despotism (1929); James M. Landis, The Administrative Process 
(1938); Ernst Freund, Administrative Powers Over Persons and Property (1928); and 
The Report on Ministers' Powers (1932). I. L. Sharfman, The Interstate Commerce Com- 
mission (1931-37) also discusses these problems, particularly in Part IV. In connection 
with governmental reorganization see Senate Report No. 1275, 75th Cong., 1st sess., 
Investigation of Executive Agencies of the Government {Preliminary Report of the Select 
Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Executive Agencies of the Gov- 
ernment), and the Report of the President's Committee on Administrative Management. 
See also decisions of the Supreme Court in Morgan v. United States, 298 U.S. 468 (1936) 
and 304 U.S. 1 (1938). Special studies of administrative procedure and practice have been 
made by Ashley Sellers, Office of the Solicitor, Department of Agriculture; for example, 
"Administrative Procedure and Practice in the Department of Agriculture Under the 
Packers and Stockyards Act, 1921" (mimeo.); and "Administrative Procedure and 
Practice in the Department of Agriculture Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement 
Act of 1937" (mimeo.). See also Sen. Doc. No. 186, 76th Cong., 3d sess., Monographs 
of the Attorney General's Committee on Administrative Procedure, described below, p. 
356, n. 57. Parts 7 and 11 deal with activities of the Department of Agriculture. 

190 Department of Agriculture 


In 1938 the Department was given a new and significant role in the 
transportation of agricultural commodities. Under the Agricultural 
Adjustment Act of 1938 the Secretary of Agriculture was authorized 
to make complaints to the Interstate Commerce Commission about 
"rates, charges, tariffs and practice relating to the transportation of farm 
products." 59 Here a significant administrative device was provided 
whereby the interests of one department might influence the activities 
of another national agency. The Secretary also had the right, when 
others filed complaints about the transportation of farm products, to 
be notified of such action and, when the matter affected "the public 
interest," to be made a party to the proceeding. Thus, the Secretary was 
constituted an attorney for agriculture before the Interstate Commerce 
Commission. Contrary to some observers, 60 we do not feel that this 
change conferred upon a limited group a special privilege. The Secretary 
was given no power to compel the Commission to act outside or con- 
trary to its acknowledged responsibility. It was his job merely to see that 
the farmers' interest contributed to an evaluation of the public interest. 
Perhaps other groups should have been given comparable representa- 
tion; perhaps some were satisfied with private representation. Neverthe- 
less, by this procedure the balanced interests of one group might be 
brought to bear upon an activity affecting the public interest. 

• • * 
Thus far we have noted the rise in the Department of activities per- 
taining directly to marketing. In response to particular problems these 
activities have sought to facilitate the sale of farm produce, to protect 
the farmer in his purchases, and to protect his interest in market and 
exchange practices. Grade and standards work has developed in connec- 
tion with these activities as a special service, usually on a fee basis. In 
response to the pressures of consumer interests, and because of special- 
ized facilities or influential personnel in the Department, activities seek- 
ing to protect the consumer in the market place have been added. As 
a group these marketing activities have contributed to the process of 
moving goods from the producer to the consumer — one of the funda- 
mental functions of government itself. Extensive as this group of ac- 
tivities has been, however, it has reached only a part of the larger 
problem of distribution. 

59 52 Stat. L. 36, sec. 201. 
60 See below, p. 282, n. 21. 

Chapter io 


The law of supply and demand presupposes the ability of the pro- 
ducer to adjust his output to the market and thus to assure him- 
self a "fair" return for his efforts. 1 Whatever its justification in a 
simple agrarian society, this tenet gave no comfort to the farmer of later 
decades: he found out that however much he limited his production, 
prices were determined in world, not local, markets and that his efforts 
had practically no effect upon world supply or price — he was but one of 
some six million farmers in this country alone. 

The inadequacy of individual effort did not disprove the law of 
supply and demand; it indicated that, to make the law work to their 
advantage, farmers would need to act collectively in controlling the 
supply of commodities. At this stage, it was assumed that such col- 
lective action would naturally follow if all were aware of impending 
market conditions. The farmer individually could not discover such 
information, but the Department could collect, analyze, and make 
available the findings of statistical economic information. As the sup- 
plies of agricultural commodities increasingly overshot demand, govern- 
ment aid in the collection and dissemination of such information was 
petitioned. The first appropriation for agriculture, in 1839, authorized 
the collection of statistical information. 2 

Henry L. Ellsworth, the Commissioner of Patents, declared in 1839 
that farmers could not indefinitely leave the collection of agricultural 
statistics in the hands of private individuals, and he assigned a clerk 
to collect them from volunteer correspondents. But it was a long 
time before the Government did anything extensive along this line. 
In 1862 Agricultural Commissioner Newton saw in statistics "the 
key which is to unlock the hidden treasure of maturing nature." 
Newton believed statistics would reveal to the husbandman and 
merchant the great laws of demand and supply, and enable both to 
work out a safe and healthy prosperity. In 1882 Jacob R. Dodge 
the Department's chief statistician, held an equally rosy view. He 
thought statistics would permit the farmer to raise "the most efficient 

1 This statement implies the availability of alternative employment for those who fail. 
2 Chew, "Evolving Service Functions of the Department of Agriculture," Rural America, 
February, 1938, p. 11. 


192 Department of Agriculture 

crops in the most efficient climates at the most profitable times" and 
to lay out his capital and labor generally to the best advantage. 

Increased emphasis upon adjusting supply to demand led to the crea- 
tion of the Office of Markets and Rural Organization in 1913, the 
Bureau of Markets and Crop Estimates in 1921, and the B.A.E. in 1922. 
In 1923 the system of Outlook Reports was developed for the purpose of 
indicating anticipated production and normal demand in order that 
farmers might readjust their acreage accordingly. This service was con- 
tinued and amplified to assist "American farmers to adjust their opera- 
tions and practices to meet world conditions" 3 by the creation of the 
Foreign Agricultural Service in 1930. This Service absorbed and ex- 
tended the Department's foreign economic reporting, but the personnel 
stationed abroad became officially attached to the diplomatic missions 
or consulates of the countries in which they operated. 4 

Cooperatives and Other Marketing Services 

During the twenties, when these reporting services had thus been ex- 
tended, the movement developed for farm cooperatives and other market- 
ing services. The reduction in prices incident to the inability of 
consumption to keep abreast of supplies was borne largely by the 
farmer. Marketing costs were not reduced proportionately; in fact 
they claimed an increasing share of the price paid by the consumer. 
Producer cooperative organizations were encouraged as a means of 
reducing the marketing costs through standardization of grades, con- 
tainers, and methods and of increasing producer prices by releasing sup- 
plies in accordance with demand. 5 The gap between what the consumer 
paid and what the farmer received was to be reduced. The B.A.E. 6 
undertook research in these matters. Congressional efforts, beginning 
with the Joint Commission of Agricultural Inquiry in 1922, reached 

3 46 Stat. L. 497. We should note the earlier efforts of David Lubin of Sacramento, Cali- 
fornia. It was his agitation for better information for the farmer about international 
economic conditions that led to the organization of the International Institute of Agri- 
culture at Rome. 

4 This interdepartmental arrangement was advantageous in collecting desired data, 
though it raised many questions about foreign relations. By Reorganization Order No. 
2 the Foreign Agricultural Service was transferred to the Department of State in 1939. 

5 The transfer of the F.C.A. to the Department of Agriculture in 1939 brought to the 
Department the extensive cooperative activities of the F.C.A. 

6 The B.A.E. continued and expanded the acquisition of economic data about the mar- 
keting of farm commodities, which was to be of great value in the development and admin- 
istration of farm programs after 1933. See above, pp. 50-52, for a discussion of the B.A.E. 
as a general-staff agency of the Department in the economic field. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 193 

their height in the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929. 7 Supplementary 
marketing services were rendered by the Department in the form of 
information on improved methods of preparing produce for markets 
and also on the best time and place for the sale of such produce. In 
1924 Congress established in the Department of Agriculture the Bureau 
of Dairying (later known as the Bureau of Dairy Industry) for the pur- 
pose of investigating the dairy industry and of disseminating informa- 
tion to aid its promotion. Publications of the Department on market- 
ing are extensive. 8 

The plight of the farmer in the twenties was related by one group 
of agricultural leaders to the small share of the national income that 
agriculture received. Statistics revealed that farmers were receiving a 
lower percentage of the nation's income than before the war and were 
interpreted to mean that the farmer was no longer receiving his "fair 
share" of that income. This conception of the farm problem constituted 
a special argument and a justification for governmental aid in restor- 
ing that "fair share" to the farmer; it provided a nice point about which 
different groups interested in improving the farmer's economic status 
could be rallied. Hence, the farmers could effectively support the de- 
velopment of programs contributing to this end. Furthermore, it 
brought specific proposals for government action, the most important 
of which were the equalization fee, 9 export debenture, and domestic 
allotment plans. Each was supported by one of the major farm organiza- 
tions and was calculated to raise prices to the farmer. Each was based 

7 See above, p. 64. 

8 A sampling of titles will indicate the scope of marketing activities: Farmers' Bulletins 
such as Marketing Farm Produce by Parcel Post (1551), Grading Wool (1805), Mar- 
keting Poultry (1377); Leaflets such as Maintaining the Health of Livestock in Transit 
(38), Preparing Wool for Market (92); Circulars such as Analysis of the Operations of 
a Cooperative Livestock Concentration Point (142), Wholesale Markets for Fruits and 
Vegetables in 40 Cities (463), Packaging, Curing, and Merchandising American Cheddar 
Cheese in Cans (16); Department Bulletins such as Accounting Records and Business 
Methods for Livestock Shipping Associations (1150), Marketing Practices of Wisconsin 
and Minnesota Creameries (690); and Miscellaneous Publications such as Testing Milk 
and Cream (138), Economic Survey of the Live-Poultry Industry in New York City (283). 
9 See Campbell, op. cit., passim; Christensen, op. cit., passim.; also Lawrence Myers, 
Chief, Marketing Section, A.A.A., "Agricultural Programs and the Processing Tax," ad- 
dress before meeting of the Underwear Institute, Philadelphia, April 28, 1938 (mimeo.): 
"Out of the farm relief movement of the early 1920's came the tariff equalization fee pro- 
posal which was embodied in the McNary-Haugen bills. This proposal was first set forth 
by Mr. George N. Peek and General Hugh S. Johnson in their pamphlet 'Equality for 
Agriculture.' The equalization fee, which is identical with the processing tax of the 
Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, provided for the collection of a fee upon the domestic 
processing of a commodity. This fee was to be equal to the difference between the actual 
farm price and the parity price of the commodity. The parity price was a price which 
would restore the purchasing power of the commodity to its pre-war level." 

194 Department of Agriculture 

upon the contention that the farm problem arose from the necessity of 
agriculture to market its products in competition with the unprotected 
products of the rest of the world, while it produced under a system of 
protective tariffs and other protective legislation. Under these plans 
the farmer would be given the equivalent of a tariff on that part of his 
production consumed in the United States. 

With the failure of the Outlook Service and the campaigns of the 
Farm Board to bring about voluntary reduction in production, it be- 
came more generally asserted that no effective program would be pos- 
sible without an adjustment in crop acreage. Little consideration was 
given to the possibility of approaching the problem through a positive 
increase in consumption when there was real demand but inadequate 
purchasing power: 10 

There has been much talk in recent years among general economists 
about underconsumption: but in discussions on a national plan for 
agriculture little attention has been given to the possibility of an in- 
crease in demand for agricultural products resulting from any social 
change, domestic or foreign, that would enable the masses to equate 
their real with their effective demand. It is agreed that during the 
last two or three years their purchasing power, the "effective demand," 
has not sufficed to satisfy their real demand for agricultural products. 
But is this true also from a long-time point of view? 

After the failure of past programs agricultural economists, with repre- 
sentatives of the B.A.E., the Federal Farm Board, and the land-grant 
colleges, met in Chicago late in 1931 to discuss such a national plan. 11 
Persia Campbell observes, however, "It is evident from the discussions 
at the Conference that the idea of a national plan for agriculture is 
still in an amorphous state." 12 Nevertheless, the efforts revealed the 
rapidly declining reliance upon laissez faire. The problem of the farmer 
and his market remained. 

Production Control 

After the new national administration took control in 1933 a farm 
bill was introduced in Congress incorporating a program based upon 
the original domestic allotment plan, but it developed into a produc- 
tion control plan. The bill became the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 
1933. The production control features of the new program represent 

^Campbell, op. cit., pp. 268-69. 

11 Note that the National Conference on Land Utilization was held in the same year. See 
above, p. 140. 

^Campbell, op. cit., p. 260. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 195 

an extremely significant shift in national policy. For the first time an 
extensive direct-action program was based upon the use to which the 
farmer put his land. Pecuniary inducements were offered in exchange 
for adjustments in acreage and restrictions of crop plantings by the 
owners and operators of all the privately owned agricultural land in 
the nation. The Act presented, in addition, important administrative 

Administration of the Act involved the negotiation of a contract with 
every producer who offered to participate. Direct administrative re- 
sponsibility was placed in the Department; state agencies were not 
authorized to assume such responsibility. The state extension services, 
however, with county agents in each agricultural county, were asked to 
cooperate. The seriousness of the farm problem and the emergency 
nature of the Act made immediate action vital. It was already too late 
to influence spring plantings, and efforts at immediate results through 
the "plowing under" of growing crops resulted in unfavorable publicity. 
Furthermore, the recruiting of the extension services placed upon them 
an added burden taxing their ability to perform both ordinary and 
emergency activities adequately, induced petitions for increased ap- 
propriations, and, after meeting the complaints of dissatisfied par- 
ticipants, brought forth the contention that they should "keep out of 

The administration of the program also had to meet the pressures 
of commodity groups, the organization and support of which had long 
sustained a demand for a national farm program. These groups had 
been promised an advisory role in the formulation and administration 
of the commodity phases of the program. 13 The Administration had 
to cope with the pressures of groups that, since they represented pri- 
marily the owner class, pressed for policies favorable to themselves re- 
gardless of the interests of tenants and sharecroppers. In making these 
demands effective the A.A.A. came into conflict with a group in the 
Department that, to compensate for the injustices, became a motivating 
factor in the development of the F.S.A. 

The Act authorized the Secretary to establish "for the more effective 
administration of the function vested in him" state and local committees 
or associations of producers and to permit producer associations to act 
as agents for their members in distributing rental or benefit payments. 
This procedure was the first of the many efforts to democratize the 

13 It has already been noted that the organization of the A. A. A. shifted later from a 
commodity to a regional basis. 

196 Department of Agriculture 

administration of farm programs. 14 It helped assure farmers' participa- 
tion and interest; it provided a means of bringing to bear upon the 
administration of the program information about, and experience with, 
different commodity problems. The Department had launched a new 
and bold program; it would profit from the support and participation 
of local farmers. 15 

Administrative Problems 

Important administrative problems arose from the organization of 
the A.A.A. as a complete unit wtihin the Department. It became, in 
effect, a department within the Department; it had its own planning 
staff and its own information and other auxiliary services independent 
of close integration with the relevant general-staff and auxiliary services 
on the departmental level. It has been said that such an organization 
was necessary because of its special responsibilities and because of the 
need for control of the instruments in order to discharge its responsi- 
bilities to the farm groups. The B.A.E. was not, therefore, integrated 
with the A.A.A. program. The departmental reorganization of 1938, 
however, transferred the Program Planning Division of the A.A.A. to 
the B.A.E. Prior to 1938, the separation gave rise to difficult problems 
of integration. 

The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 also authorized the negotia- 
tion of marketing agreements with "processors, associations of pro- 
ducers, and others." After the invalidation of the Act in the Hoosac 
Mills case 16 the marketing sections were reenacted. 17 Provision was 
made for the issuance of marketing orders covering certain commodities 
if it was determined, by referendum, that two-thirds of the producers 
of a commodity favored the issuance of an order and if the handlers of 

14 Before coming to power the Democratic party had committed itself to a policy of 
consultation, both in the formulation and administration of the program and in the use of 
democratic processes. The support of Secretary Wallace and other agricultural leaders 
contributed to the adoption of the technique. 

10 The phrase "democratization of farm programs" really means that farm groups have 
been given formal and legal means of bringing their own interests to bear upon policy 
and procedural determination. It should be noted that "farmer democracy" is for the 
farmer and fails to include a positive conception of the public interest. It seeks, too fre- 
quently, to obtain support for farm operations in areas, such as the arid regions, where the 
public interest might be better advanced by the complete elimination of such operations. 
It fails, in other words, to recognize that agriculture is an integral part of the national 
economy and that its proper interrelation with that economy is a national matter, greater, 
indeed, than all of agriculture, and not a local, special-interest prerogative. Thus, again, 
it is the function of the Department to harmonize these pressures in the public interest. 

16 See above, p. 78, n. 21. 

17 50 Stat. L. 246. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 197 

50 per cent of the volume signed the marketing agreement. 18 An agree- 
ment and order usually dictated the volume of a commodity that could 
be marketed within a stipulated period, the distribution of shares of 
such volume among producers, and restrictions on specified grades; 
milk-marketing agreements sought to establish uniform plans under 
which all handlers would pay the same price for milk to be used for a 
given purpose. Marketing agreements and orders in effect gave to co- 
operative associations the legal power to compel a recalcitrant minority 
to comply with a uniform program. The program placed upon the De- 
partment the tasks of holding hearings and referenda, of preparing 
agreements and orders, and of enforcing orders. Problems of relations 
with states, cities, and private organizations arose from constitutionally 
limited jurisdictions; 19 the administrative task of integrating the pro- 
gram with other marketing and land-use activities within the Depart- 
ment became important; and problems of rule-making and review 
were increased. 

Difficult problems also arose from efforts to protect consumers' 
interests. Congress had stipulated that the consumer be protected; in- 
creases in consumer prices brought adverse pressure from urban areas. 
The problem became most pressing about marketing agreements and 
orders because here, by express provisions, producer prices would be 
increased. Milk agreements and orders became particularly difficult be- 
cause the producer, so interested in benefiting himself, would agree to 
a substantial increase in the retail price of milk in order to receive an 
additional fraction of a cent per quart. The Consumers' Counsel of 
the A.A.A. was created to protect the consumer, who found himself ill 
received at hearings preliminary to agreements. 20 So obsessed was the 
farmer with the increase of producers' prices through marketing pro- 
grams that he supported the Anti-Hog-Cholera Virus Act 21 (enacted 
after the N.R.A. was declared unconstitutional) authorizing a new code 
which, in addition to guaranteeing an adequate supply of such serum 
and virus, would support marketing agreements resulting in increased 
prices to the farmer himself. The farm program was the farmers' pro- 

18 The Secretary could issue an order with the approval of the President under certain 
conditions, even though a sufficient number of handlers did not sign the agreement, if 
two-thirds of the producers favored the order. 

19 The United States Supreme Court in 1939 reversed a lower court decision and up- 
held the constitutionality of a marketing order for the New York milkshed. United States 
v. Roc\ Royal Cooperative et ah, 307 U.S. 533. 

20 For further discussion of the Consumers' Counsel see below, p. 202. 
31 49 Stat. L. 750. 

198 Department of Agriculture 

It should be added that the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 
authorized the Secretary to purchase all cotton held by the Federal 
Farm Board or other agencies of the government and to contract options 
for the purchase of such cotton by producers in amounts equal to their 
reduction of production. Much of this cotton, with that acquired after 
subsequent loan agreements, remained in the hands of the national 
government as late as 1939 and presented problems of handling and 

Amendments to the Agricultural Adjustment Act 

Amendments to the Agricultural Adjustment Act in 1935 22 author- 
ized additional activities affecting the marketing of farm commodities. 
Imports of agricultural products in such quantities or under such con- 
ditions as to interfere with the accomplishment of the purposes of the 
Act were, after determination by the President, to be investigated by 
the United States Tariff Commission; on the basis of its recommenda- 
tions the President could proclaim import restrictions. Subsequently, 
of course, the Trade Agreements Program of the Department of State 
was to supersede this provision. But under both programs the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture was to be called upon to establish special inter- 
departmental collaboration in order to effect some harmony between 
national and international policies. 

The new Act also appropriated for each fiscal year 30 per cent of the 
customs receipts to be used by the Secretary to encourage the expor- 
tation of farm commodities by benefit payments, to encourage domestic 
consumption by subsidizing the diversion of farm produce from the 
normal channels of trade, and to finance adjustments in the quantity of 
crop production for market. 23 Thus, independent of annual appropri- 
ation acts, large sums of money were at the disposal of the Department 
to contribute to the increase and maintenance of farm prices. The facilities 
of the Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation were drawn upon to 
aid the administration of domestic disposals through the distribution 
of surplus food stocks, through state agencies, to relief clients. This 
Corporation, created in 1933 under the laws of Delaware as the Federal 
Surplus Relief Corporation (its name was changed in 1935), was, by 
act of Congress in 1937, 24 continued as an agency of the national gov- 

22 ibid. 

23 The Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936 changed this last provision 
to provide for payments in connection with normal production for domestic consumption. 

24 50 Stat. L. 323. For a discussion of problems of public corporations affecting the De- 
partment of Agriculture see below, p. 267. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 199 

ernment under the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture. Export 
inducements were to become more important in later years and were 
to involve vital questions of international relations. Four regional re- 
search laboratories were established to investigate new uses for agri- 
cultural products. 25 

After the United States Supreme Court held that benefit payments 
supported by processing taxes were unconstitutional, a new program 
(already conceived) was based upon payments to farmers in return 
for their adoption of stipulated soil conservation and soil erosion control 
practices. 26 It is significant that the major soil-depleting crops were also 
those in which surpluses existed and which had been most severely 
subjected to debased prices. At this point, then, problems of marketing 
jibed with problems of land use, and the integration of the programs 
of the Soil Conservation Service and other land programs with produc- 
tion control and marketing programs — an integration, incidentally, 
which admittedly had not been achieved satisfactorily up to 1939 — 
would have to be furthered. 

Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 

The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 continued benefit payments 
for conservation and erosion control practices. It also provided payments 
in return for acreage adjustments. This program was effectively com- 
parable to the basic principles of the 1933 Act but without processing 
taxes and with an elaborate system of determining crop quotas for each 
farm. Through local and county committees established in 1933 the 
A.A.A. had collected annual crop production records for individual 
farms. With these data it would now be possible to ascertain that pro- 
portion of the historic production of a crop that had been contributed 
by each farm; hence, it would be possible to calculate acreage adjust- 
ments on each farm that would, collectively, meet a national production 
goal. In addition to payments for conservation practices, producers of 
certain crops would, if they did not exceed their acreage allotments, 

These laboratories strengthened a regional-ecological approach to the farm surplus 
problem. Whatever political expediency was reflected in the location of the laboratories 
in the four major geographical sections of the country merely emphasized the ecological 
vitality of political representation. New uses for farm products might or might not relieve 
the presence of surpluses. Without increased consumer purchasing power a new use for 
one product would probably decrease the consumption of another. Commodity interests 
might find themselves competing for shares of too small a pie. New uses for cotton and 
cotton waste products were dramatically developed, but the condition of the cotton in- 
dustry, except for government subsidies, was at a low ebb in 1939. New cotton uses com- 
peted with the fertilizer, pork, rayon, and other interests. 
26 See above, p. 105. 

200 Department of Agriculture 

receive additional price adjustment (parity) payments per unit of their 
normal production on such acreage. 

The 1938 Act also provided for marketing quotas of tobacco, corn, 
wheat, cotton, and rice. Such quotas were to be proclaimed by the Secre- 
tary whenever he determined that the total supply of a commodity as 
of a given date would exceed by a stated percentage the normal supply. 
These quotas were to be apportioned among the states, counties, and 
farms according to historical marketing records. But no such quota 
would become effective if, after a referendum, one-third of the pro- 
ducers disapproved it. 27 Penalties were provided for noncompliance 
with marketing quotas that became effective. Apportionments of a na- 
tional quota to states and counties were to be made by the Secretary; 
the allotments to individual farms, by local committees. All such allot- 
ments were based upon formulae incorporated in the legislation. In all 
instances the farmer was given the right to appeal from the determina- 
tion of the committee to a special review committee composed of three 
farmers appointed by the Secretary. This review procedure raises inter- 
esting questions of administrative law which may well be explored by 
students of public administration. Provision was also made for further 
appeal to a United States district court, or to a state court having juris- 
diction, on questions of law alone. Thus, layman, official, and judge 
shared responsibility. 

Another important activity authorized by the 1938 Act was the crop 
insurance program applicable to wheat. The Federal Crop Insurance 
Corporation was "created as an agency of and within the Department 
of Agriculture" with a capital stock of $100,000,000. In return for annual 
premiums, payable in wheat, the corporation was authorized to guar- 
antee from 50 to 75 per cent of the normal production of wheat by the 
insured. Benefits were to be paid in kind, out of the premiums that 
were kept in storage. Thus, crop insurance approached an "ever-normal 
granary" for wheat. Premiums, naturally, had to be based upon risk 
and must be determined, as nearly as possible, in accordance with the 
peculiar conditions of each farm. Only the farm and county crop pro- 
duction records of the A.A.A. and B.A.E. made such rate determina- 
tions possible at all; further information and experience would provide 
bases for rate adjustments. The program was integrated with the agri- 
cultural adjustment program by the administrative provision that crop 

27 It is impossible to measure with mathematical accuracy the supply of a given com- 
modity. At times, therefore, the Secretary may with equal legitimacy find the situation 
either positive or negative as to the need for a vote on marketing quotas. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 201 

insurance would be available only to those who participated in the pro- 
duction control programs. 28 


Collection and dissemination of economic information, outlook re- 
ports, improvement of produce for market, producer cooperative asso- 
ciations, production control, export subsidies, subsidies for increased do- 
mestic consumption and diversion of uses, marketing agreements* 
marketing quotas, benefit payments for conservation and soil improve- 
ment practices, loans, crop insurance, and parity payments — all these were 
multiple efforts to increase prices paid to farmers for farm produce and 
to help guarantee to them a "fair share" of the national income. Placed 
within the Department of Agriculture, these programs increased the 
size — annual appropriations swelled to nearly $1,500,000,000 — and the 
complexity of the Department's administrative structure. The general 
staff was hard put to harmonize the different programs and the special 
commodity and areal pressures into a unified whole; the auxiliary serv- 
ices, organized and manned for a smaller Department, were taxed 
seriously by the increase in their responsibilities. The interrelations of 
these programs were intricate and produced complex administrative 
problems. Moreover, the whole group was interrelated with other phases 
of the Department's activities. Grades and standards became extremely 
important in the administration of marketing agreements and market- 
ing quotas ; crop production and improvement must be integrated with 
production control; price, population, tenure, and other information 
must be drawn upon and expanded; and all must be integrated with 
the land-use programs on an areal basis. 

The Department's price-raising efforts — like production, grades and 
standards, and market and exchange practices — were developed with 
emphasis upon farmer interest. Administrative problems have been 
made more difficult, however, by the fact that the farm problem is not 
exclusive : it is but a part of (contributing to and affected by) national 
economic conditions. Increased prices to the consumer, without com- 
pensating benefits, would result in a decrease of consumption, an aggra- 
vation of surplus conditions, 29 and further disadvantages to the farmer. 

28 The Act also provided for commodity loans, special cotton price adjustment payments, 
and cotton -pool participation trust certificates. 

^George B. Hotchkiss, in Milestones of Marketing (New York: Macmillan Company, 
1928), points out (pp. xv-xvi) that the problem of surpluses is not new: "Perhaps more 
serious than any of these pitfalls is the almost universal human tendency to judge past 
conduct and motives in the light of our later and better knowledge. For example, it is 

202 Department of Agriculture 

Congress itself ordained in the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 
that the consumer be protected from the hardships of increased prices; 
emphasis upon this point became increasingly sharp in subsequent legis- 
lation. 30 While farm groups pressed for advantages through interpreta- 
tion and calculations of parity prices, urban groups pressed for increased 
consumer protection. 


Within the Department itself a special administrative device, the post 
of Consumers' Counsel of the A.A.A., was created in 1933 to give con- 
sideration to consumers' interest. The philosophy behind the creation of 
this office was stated in a letter from the Secretary of Agriculture to 
Administrator Peek: 31 

You have already provided, through your two divisions, for adequate 
representation of the producer and the distributor and processor. 
These two divisions are headed by men who have broad experience 
and sympathy with these groups of interests. If we are to justify our 
decisions before Congress and other political groups, however, the 
record must show that we have given equal consideration to the con- 
sumers' interests. That was why I suggested the creation, within 
your organization, of a unit specially charged with examining each 

commonly believed that men of bygone days lived in a scarcity economy and were pre- 
occupied with the task of producing enough to satisfy their needs, whereas ours is 
an 'age of abundance' in which for the first time the problem of distribution has become 
of paramount importance. From our viewpoint this is true, but from the viewpoint of 
our ancestors it was not true. For the past five hundred years at least, fear of scarcity 
was far less common than fear of surplus. Persistent attempts were made to guard against 
over-production, and the typical method of bringing about a balance between supply and 
demand was by curtailing supply. Only for short periods, or in limited groups, were 
producers ever free from worry regarding the marketing of their merchandise and services." 

3 °48 Stat. L. 257: "To protect the consumers' interest by readjusting farm production at 
such level as will not increase the percentage of the consumers' retail expenditures for 
agricultural commodities, or products derived therefrom, which is returned to the farmer, 
above the percentage which was returned to the farmer in the prewar period, August 
1909-July 1914." 

49 Stat. L. 750: "Such powers shall not be used to discourage the production of supplies 
of foods and fibers sufficient to maintain normal domestic human consumption as deter- 
mined by the Secretary from the records of domestic human consumption in the years 1920 
to 1929, inclusive, taking into consideration increased population, quantities of any com- 
modity that were forced into domestic consumption by decline in exports during such 
period, current trends in domestic consumption and exports of particular commodities, and 
the quantities of substitutes available for domestic consumption within any general class 
of food commodities. In carrying out the purposes of this section due regard shall be given 
to the maintenance of a continuous and stable supply of agricultural commodities adequate 
to meet consumer demand at prices fair to both producers and consumers." 

The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 repeated this consumer protection provision 
but changed the phrase "due regard shall be given to the maintenance of. . ." to read: 
"it shall be the duty of the Secretary to give due regard to. . .". 

31 June 10, 1933. Quoted in "Administrative History of Consumers' Counsel" (unpub- 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 203 

proposed action from the consumer's point of view; and staffed and 
equipped to carry out the necessary accounting, statistical, and eco- 
nomic investigations as a basis for its reports to you. With formal 
reports covering this aspect, as well as the other aspects of each agree- 
ment, in front of you before you took final action, we would be well 
able to defend our decisions when the inevitable public investigations 
of our operations are made. 

I have checked with the President as to my point of view in this mat- 
ter, and find that he agrees with me thoroughly. He feels we should 
see that our organization is so developed that the consumer is fully 
protected, and that the record of our work on each case is clear when 
the time comes for the later inspection and investigation. 

The duties of the Consumers' Counsel were expressed in a letter 
issued by C. C. Davis, Administrator of the A.A.A., on April 25, 1935, 
and in a statement appearing frequently in the Consumers' Guide. 

As I see it, under the Agricultural Adjustment Administration the 
office of the Consumers' Counsel has a two-fold responsibility. . . . 

Its function, so far as the Agricultural Adjustment Administration is 
concerned, is to represent the interest of the consumer at every stage 
in the Administration's activities. When a commodity control pro- 
gram, a marketing agreement, or a licensing agreement is under 
consideration it is essential that both producers' and consumers' in- 
terests be represented by trained economists, highly skilled in research 
and in the interpretation of economics. In many cases, there is no 
conflict of interests: the consumer wants the producer to receive the 
kind of returns for his produce that will insure the continuance of 
an adequate food supply, and the farmer wants the consumer to be 
able to buy an adequate volume of farm products. In some cases, 
where there is some apparent conflict, on particular points, it is the 
function of the Consumers' Counsel to represent the consumer and 
assist in finding the point of maximum justice to both producer and 

Once a program, a marketing agreement, or a license is in effect, it is 
the function of the Consumers' Counsel to observe its operation, and 
determine whether or not the results anticipated at the time it was 
framed are actually being obtained. Should it appear that they are 
not, the Counsel has a double duty, a duty to urge reconsideration 
of the program within the AAA. to see if the fault needs to be 
remedied by a change in the provisions of the program, and a duty 
to give publicity to the facts as they exist. 

The giving of publicity is particularly important in the cases where 
the proper amount of the price paid by the consumer is not being 
passed on to the farmer, but is being unjustifiably retained as a 
margin by the middleman. Effective work on making public undue 

204 Department of Agriculture 

spreads between prices paid by consumers and prices received by 
farmers has already been done by the Counsel in a number of in- 

The Consumers' Guide, issued by the office of the Counsel and sent 
free on application, is the vehicle through which pertinent informa- 
tion regarding price movements and living costs is transmitted to 
individuals and groups concerned with the consumers' interests. 

We should note also the statement of Donald E. Montgomery, Con- 
sumers' Counsel at the time of this study : 32 

The present Consumers' Counsel conceives his public relations re- 
sponsibilities to be directed to furthering the legitimate demands for 
information and service coming from this great mass of organized 
consumers. In doing so, he believes that he is contributing to a 
strengthening of the long-time objectives of agriculture, as well as 
to the immediate necessities of the Agricultural Adjustment Act. 
No sound farm program can be conceived in the limited terms of 
a pressure group program. Agriculture is too large a part of the 
nation's economy and too closely affects the lives of every one to be 
operated successfully on the basis of special interests or of a private 

Nevertheless, in the operation of any plan of relief for one section 
of the producers of the country there still remains the practical every- 
day problem of pressure groups. The Administration has before it 
the task of channeling the demands and pressures of a segment of the 
population into a broad program which will build a sound national 
economy directed toward an increasing material abundance for all. 

Place of the Consumers' Counsel in the Department 

This expression of responsibilities reveals a difficult administrative 
problem. So conceived, the Consumers' Counsel would perform im- 
portant general-stafT functions of the Department. As we have already 
pointed out, the harmonizing of pressures from agriculture with the 
public interest was a basic function of the Department. It was, therefore, 
the responsibility of the general staff to guide such an objective. The 
Consumers' Counsel, however, was attached to a line agency and was 
supported financially by contributions from the A.A.A., the F.S.C.C., 
and the Sugar Division. It had, therefore, no authority to speak for the 
Department. We do not mean to imply that the Consumers' Counsel 
should be transferred to the Secretary's Office. It seems to us that efforts 
to harmonize special interests with the public interest can be effective 
at the line level. We wish to suggest, however, that such consideration 

32 Undated. Quoted in "Administrative History of Consumers' Counsel." 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 205 

may profitably be given at the departmental level and at the level of the 
national government as well, either in the Cabinet or through an agency 
such as the Federal Trade Commission or the National Resources Plan- 
ning Board. It should also be noted that there was substantial support 
for the creation of a separate executive department representing the 
consumer. 33 An able argument in this connection has been advanced 
by Stacy May: 34 

In the administrative framework of the federal government agencies 
have been set up to represent special economic interests. This is 
more or less generally recognized of the Departments of Labor and 
Agriculture and less generally (at the present time at least) of Com- 
merce. But there is no department to represent the consumer interest. 
I think that there should be. And instead of half-heartedly trying to 
hold to the assumption that each department carries an over-all public 
interest, I should give each of these economic interest departments 
not only the right but even the affirmative duty of seeing that the 
interest it represented was put forward clearly in every case where 
a regulatory act of government affected it. Needless to say the 
regulatory agencies should be located in other departments. If some- 
thing like this were done, the administrators of regulation would 
really represent the public interest when they arbitrated, as they must 
do, between the issues presented to them. But without consumer 
representation the balance is skewed, and the public interest is warped. 

In juxtaposition to this view we place the contention — developed by 
Clarence E. Ayres — "that the protection of the interests of consumers 
is the business, not of subordinate divisions of regulatory agencies how- 
ever closely coordinated or even combined, but on the contrary is the 

33 Other consumer agencies created in recent years should be noted. A Consumers' Divi- 
sion of the National Emergency Council, succeeded by the Consumers' Division of the 
National Recovery Administration, became finally the Consumers' Project. The Consumers' 
Counsel of the National Bituminous Coal Commission was transferred by Reorganization 
Order No. 2 to the Solicitor's Office of the Department of the Interior. In an address before 
the American Retail Federation on May 22, 1939, Secretary of Commerce Hopkins made 
this statement {Congressional Record, May 23, 1939, p. 8486): "While there are several 
agencies in the Federal Government engaged in activities for the benefit of consumers, I 
have always felt that the Government's whole program has never adequately protected and 
promoted their interests. I am convinced the Department of Commerce should play an ap- 
propriate role in such a program. The development for consumers of standards and grades 
of certain products and the conducting of research in business practices directly affecting 
consumer interests are within the scope of the Department's purposes." 

The Wheeler-Lea Act of March 21, 1938, broadened the powers of the Federal Trade 
Commission to prevent business practices injurious to consumers and to prevent false ad- 
vertising of foods, drugs, cosmetics, and healing devices. For a description of consumer 
activities of the national government see "Federal Agencies Engaged in Activities Con- 
cerned with Consumer Standards and Commodity Information," prepared by S. P. Kaida- 
novsky, Consumers' Project, U. S. Department of Labor (1937). 

34 Stacy May, "The Work Most Needed in the Next Five Years," address at a Confer- 
ence on Consumer Education given at Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri, April 5, 1939. 

206 Department of Agriculture 

business of Government itself." 35 Whether either of these views repre- 
sents the final answer to the dilemma, we do riot know. The problem, 
however, is central to the organization of national governmental agen- 
cies and should be explored extensively. We support the contention that 
"the interest of the consumer is the business of Government itself." But 
whether that interest can best be served only through a consumers' de- 
partment is not clear. 36 In any event, we believe that effective efforts 
can and should be made at the administrative levels of the department, 
the line bureau, and the field unit. 

Effects of the Creation of the Consumers' Council 

The creation of the position of Consumers' Counsel in the A.A.A. 
and the role assigned to it presaged a significant development of agri- 
cultural policy and corollary problems of administration. For the first 
time the interests of consumers were brought to bear upon the adminis- 
tration of farmer programs through a formally constituted body. The 
Counsel's purpose was to prevent injury to the consumer from the price- 
raising efforts of farm programs. Later, departmental policy was to be 
influenced by a broader concept of the consumers' part in solving the 
farm problem : that the end of production was consumption. If all people 
consumed that quantity and type of food necessary in a healthful diet, 
surpluses would diminish, farmers could sell more and reap greater 
returns even at lower prices, and the farm problem would approach 
solution. 37 That one-third of the population was undernourished and 
lacked the means of procuring essential foods was a good part of the 
"other half" of the farm problem. Its solution called for increased em- 
ployment in the cities, more efficient marketing and transportation, 
and protective grades and standards that would permit the consumer 
to obtain more food for his dollar. It became a problem of distribution. 38 

85 "The Organization of the Government's Consumer Services," September, 1936 (un- 

38 There is the danger that the existence of a consumers' department would permit such 
a "ganging up" of adverse pressures that it would have great difficulty in getting appro- 
priations. Then, too, other departments might leave to the consumers' department all con- 
sideration of the consumers' interest. 

37 It has been argued that there is no scientific basis for this point; that a diet might con- 
ceivably be devised that would provide all the food necessary to a healthful life which 
would leave our surpluses greater than ever. Nevertheless, it is the view expressed above 
that appears to be most important in guiding policy. It must be remembered that the basic 
attitude of responsible administrative officials is a fact as important to the problems of 
public administration as a scientific truth — sometimes more so. 

38 "The problem of coexistent want and plenty, which is utterly different today from 
what it was before the industrial revolution, is a central example of the need for a new 
combination of the physical and the social sciences. It becomes more and more urgent. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) isrj 

The agricultural adjustment programs had, of course, been initiated 
to meet distribution problems. Farmers had suffered from a reduction 
in their share of the national income, and a restoration of parity would 
require readjustments in the distribution of that income. In support 
of such an objective it was argued that a larger farm income would 
improve the operation of the national economic system. 39 The restora- 
tion of parity would permit the farmer to buy the products of industry 
with a resultant increase of industrial employment and a larger total 
national income. The word "parity" reveals the emphasis of these pro- 
grams upon prices. The farmer's share of the national income was to 
be increased through higher prices for farm produce at the farm or 
through benefit payments that would make up the difference between 
prices actually received and parity. From the consumer's point of view 
it was argued that "a full restoration of the farmer's share would not 
carry retail prices of food above the level of other retail prices, but 
would merely restore the normal parity." 40 Although the Department's 
adjustment programs emphasized farmer interests, they went much 
further in providing direct benefit payments and in seeking to readjust 
the distribution of the national income. The solution of the farm problem 
was held to be an aid to the national economy; eventually the solution 
of distribution problems would be seen as the greatest aid to agriculture. 


We turn now to the Department's activities that approached the 
solution of the farm problem through improved distribution in the 
national economy. Resettlement, subsistence homesteads, rural rehabili- 
tation, and farm-tenant programs — eventually to be incorporated in the 
Farm Security Administration — were parts of the national emergency 
relief program directed mainly toward a wider distribution of employ- 
ment, income, and goods and services. One of the notable features of 

Each advance in the technology of production enhances the difficulties of distribution and 
shows that one path cannot run ahead of the other indefinitely. It is time to pause, to take 
stock, and to see whether technology and social organization cannot somehow be har- 
monized. Science has done wonders in production; but unless it achieves corresponding 
victories in the economic and social sphere, it will find itself in a blind alley. Its technical 
successes will be misapplied or forgotten, and society will revert to more primitive forms. 
Already we get a hint of the possibility in a retrograde tendency in agriculture. Even in 
the United States the difficulties of distribution are producing less commercial and tech- 
nically less efficient types of farming." (Chew, The Response of Government to Agriculture 

(i937)>PP- 96-97-) 

39 A statement of this thesis is found in Mordecai Ezekiel and Louis H. Bean, Economic 
Bases for the Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933), p. 20. 

40 Ibid., pp. 31-32. 

208 Department of Agriculture 

these programs was the emphasis upon home production of foods. The 
practice of single-crop farming meant that the farm family depended 
upon its cash income for the purchase of its food supply. In addition 
to ordinary marketing costs the distressed farm population paid exces- 
sive costs for credit, which it was obliged to utilize frequently, if not 
constantly. Home production would not only save part of any cash 
income; it would also supplement such income in terms of an improved 

Since transportation and marketing costs are included in prices to all 
consumers, the resultant decreased purchasing power of the dollar has 
tended to reduce the consumption of farm produce. The Consumers' 
Counsel and the B.A.E. studied markets and transit facilities and 
revealed inefficiencies and waste that unnecessarily burdened distribu- 
tion. We have noted that the Secretary had authority to appear before 
the Interstate Commerce Commission in rate questions affecting farm 
commodities. 41 The Department also cooperated with state and city 
officials in studying and replanning produce markets. 42 Studies were 
also made of retail practices and their relation to marketing costs. "Many 
of the increased costs in marketing have arisen from the performance 
of new services for consumers." 43 This thesis had previously been 
advanced by D. E. Montgomery, who summed it up in the following 
terms : 44 

i. Wholesalers and retailers must earn a profit if they are to remain 
in business. 

2. Their profit is derived from that little extra amount which is in- 
cluded in a retail price. 

3. To get this little extra amount in the price they must appeal to 
consumers who have a little extra money to spend. 

4. To get this little extra money from consumers who have it to 
spend, distributors must throw in with the merchandise those little 
extra attractions in service, convenience or style which win the con- 
sumer over. 

41 See above, p. 190. 

42 See "Rolling Fruits and Vegetables Marketwards," Consumers' Guide, April 11, May 
9, May 23, and July, 1938; see also "Philadelphia Goes to Market," ibid., October 10, 1938. 

48 C. W. Warburton, "Extension Work in Marketing and Cooperation with State Bureaus 
of Markets," Extension Service Circ. 307, April, 1939 (mimeo.). 

^"Looking Ahead on the Consumer Program," address before the New York State 
Home Economics Association, New York, April 22, 1938 (mimeo.); see also "Consumer 
Education in the Schools," address before the Southeastern Education Association, Chat- 
tanooga, Tennessee, October 22, 1938 (mimeo.). 

Although this argument has much merit, it is the thesis of the special pleader. Actually 
chain stores, cash-and-carry stores, and supermarkets have made for a relatively efficient 
retailing of food supplies. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 209 

5. These added attractions impose costs which must be added in, 
and the little extra amount for profit must be added on top of that. 

6. Thus the persistent trend toward more and more service and 
higher cost, and the shaping of distribution practices to the serving 
of consumers who have plenty to spend, and the neglect of those who 
have little. 

7. Finally all this is rationalized by saying that consumers demand 
these things and that the consumers' will is the law of trade. 

In terms of health and comfort and the humanitarian side of things 
the upshot of this logic of distribution is a tendency to neglect the 
needs of a very large part of the consuming public. On the economic 
side its outcome is a tendency to destroy the consumer function of a 
great part of the population, with results that are repeatedly disastrous 
not only to them but to everyone else. They buy not, neither do 
they spend. 

The Consumers' Counsel, as well as the B.A.E., 45 worked with con- 
sumers' organizations in supplying information and guidance to fortify 
their memberships in the market place. 46 

The domestic consumption program, authorized by amendment to 
the Agricultural Adjustment Act in 1935 and administered subsequently 
through the Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation, sought to re- 
lieve the price-depressing effect of farm surpluses by purchasing quan- 
tities of such surplus commodities for relief distribution. During the fis- 
cal year ending June 30, 1938, 1,000,000,000 pounds of surplus foods were 
purchased at a cost of $48,400,000 and distributed to state welfare agencies. 
In 1938 supplies of farm produce were substantially in excess of normal 

45 "The city market of today presents for the consumers' choice a bewildering display of 
fruits and vegetables, many of which are in constant supply the year round, and usually at 
a price within the reach of the average customer. It is no longer a novelty to find many 
kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables on the markets during the winter months. Formerly 
they were available only during the local production season, but now they are shipped out 
of season from the production areas in which they are available. 

"The present-day market with its great variety of products is largely the result of 
modern methods of production, handling, grading, and packing, combined with improved 
transportation facilities that make it possible to ship to distant markets the most perishable 
fruits and vegetables. There are in addition storage facilities for the less perishable crops 
which insure a more even distribution and a year-round supply." Department of Agricul- 
ture, A Fruit and Vegetable Buying Guide for Consumers, by R. G. Hill, Misc. Pub. No. 
167, pp. 1-2. Publications of the Consumers' Counsel include Consumers' Guide, "Con- 
sumers' Bookshelf" (mimeo.), "Consumer Notes" (mimeo.), and "Consumers' Market 
Service" (mimeo.). 

46 Guided by an overzealous advocate, such efforts may present difficult problems. Con- 
sumers' organizations are not responsible to any governmental agency; they may be con- 
trolled by special interests actually opposed to the consumers' interest; and they may de- 
velop policies in conflict with those of the department that encouraged their growth. 

210 Department of Agriculture 

consumption. The invalidation of the original Agricultural Adjustment 
Act in 1936 deprived the Department of its major instrument for the 
control of farm production. The Soil Conservation and Domestic Allot- 
ment Act, subsequently enacted, had only an incidental effect upon 
crop acreage. Absence of effective production control continued; the 
Agricultural Adjustment Act, calculated to furnish that control, was 
passed on February 16, 1938, but this was too late for the preparation 
and effectuation of procedure to catch the spring plantings of that year — 
a year, too, of bumper crops. 

The Department, confronted with this situation, turned to its surplus 
disposal programs. As then developed, these activities were not adequate 
to meet the problem. Early in June, 1938, the Secretary requested the 
executive committee of the F.S.C.C. to determine, in cooperation with 
state and local relief organizations, "the extent of the unfilled need for 
food and clothing among people on relief." In announcing this investiga- 
tion the Secretary stated: 47 

Twin disasters occurring within the last few months have caused the 
people of the United States to adopt once more an emergency action 
program under the leadership of President Roosevelt. 
One disaster, due to man's failure to regulate his own affairs wisely, 
is the shutdown or part-time operation of factories. The other dis- 
aster, due in part to the bounty of nature, is the fall in farm prices 
and farm income under the weight of huge surpluses. 
And once more the factory shutdowns and the farm surpluses have 
brought to thousands of families the danger of going hungry in a 
land of plenty. 

The results of the study were announced on July 6, 1938 : 48 

The survey showed that welfare agencies of the States and the District 
of Columbia indicated an outlet for foodstuffs for distribution to 
2,626,000 relief families. Expanding the buying operations of the 
Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation to the full extent of the 
commodities which they could use as indicated by the survey would 
call for an outlay of about $175,000,000, whereas the total funds avail- 
able for all surplus removal operations of the AAA are only about 
$79,000,000. The primary commodities needed by relief families 
are dairy products, dried and fresh fruits, vegetables, dried beans 
and peas, and cereals. 

On the strength of these findings it was clear that the domestic con- 
sumption program then in effect could not meet these needs, nor could 

47 Department of Agriculture, press release, June 3, 1938, p. 1. 
48 Ibid., July 6, 1938, p. 1. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 211 

it effectively aid farm prices. In October, 1938, therefore, the Secretary 
announced two plans that were being considered by the Department 
to alleviate the surplus problem. One applied exclusively to wheat. 
Export subsidies were to be offered in order to sell abroad 100,000,000 
bushels of wheat. 49 This program was quickly put into operation and 
proceeded against severe world competition. It provoked serious com- 
plaints from other nations that considered it an unwarranted threat to 
their markets. The object of the other program was to increase domestic 
consumption of farm products through special price concessions to 
relief and low-income groups. 

Efforts to Increase Domestic Consumption 

As a counter to proposals for foreign dumping the Department pro- 
posed efforts to increase domestic consumption through subsidies and 
other devices that would make farm commodities available to the under- 
privileged at special prices. It was pointed out that export subsidies for 
wheat were not inconsistent with this objective because our population 
was already consuming a maximum of bread and cereals. 50 Because 
of the emphasis upon special prices in lieu of free distribution the sug- 
gestions were reported in the press as the "two-price system." As such, 
the system implied, particularly to retailers, the erection of a new retail 
marketing service in competition with the existing structure. Actually 
there was no preconceived definitive plan. Studies of the agricultural 
needs of relief clients had revealed serious diet deficiencies and unhappy 
shortages of clothing, bedding, and other products of fibers. It was 
logical to seek to balance want with plenty. Until the spring of 1939 
the special domestic consumption program comprised a number of 
separate subprograms. One urged the mayors of large cities to establish 
special distribution systems for the poor. A lead was taken from New 
York City. 51 Mayor LaGuardia had established a chain of milk depots 
where the poor could show certificates of need and purchase milk at 
below-cost prices. The Department brought this operation to the atten- 
tion of officials of other cities and urged them to adopt similar systems. 

Voluntary Cooperation of Private Entrepreneurs 

Another subprogram was directed toward the reduction in marketing 
costs when surpluses appeared in specific commodities. Here, too, the 

49 An export subsidy in cotton was added later. 

50 Flour and corn meal were subsequently added to the stamp plan for the benefit of those 
lowest-income people who needed the greatest possible food value for their dollars. 

51 This service was first established by a private association in Detroit and was taken up 
by Boston as well as New York. 

212 Department of Agriculture 

direction was indicated by prior efforts. In 1936 the chain stores, through 
a trade association — Agricultural Trade Relations, Inc. — approached 
some of the farmer groups in California with the suggestion of putting 
on special drives for disposing of surpluses. It is significant that at that 
time, because of political conflicts over chain stores, farmers were reluc- 
tant to have any formal relations with them. Nevertheless, special cam- 
paigns were undertaken based upon promotional efforts and shared 
costs. Before long the farmers began to press for additional campaigns 
of this sort. 

In the autumn of 1938 the Department called together producers, 
middlemen, and retailers of grapefruit and asked them to cooperate in 
reducing costs to a point at which an imminent surplus could be moved. 
An unsuccessful appeal was also made for special freight rates to apply 
to the transportation of such grapefruit. The large chain stores, partly 
because of previous satisfactory experiences and partly because of their 
terror at anti-chain-store legislation, were especially amenable to the 
Department's suggestions and, after the grapefruit campaign, cooper- 
ated in moving other surpluses. 

Efforts were not so successful to evolve, through the cooperation of 
retailers and bedding manufacturers, a plan for the conversion of sur- 
plus cotton into mattresses for the use of the poor. On November 11, 
1938, representatives of manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of cot- 
ton goods met with representatives of the Department and were organ- 
ized as the Joint Committee of Representatives of Business and Govern- 
ment. Through subcommittees and at a subsequent meeting a report 
was prepared; it emphasized exports, diversion, storage for national 
defense, promotion, prohibition of the use of secondhand materials, and 
relief distribution of a part of government-owned cotton through the 
F.S.C.C. in the form of mattresses manufactured by "regularly estab- 
lished private enterprises, provided appropriate steps are taken to iden- 
tify the mattresses and prohibit their sale or the sale of their contents." 52 

These plans, it should be noted, did not involve subsidies to be paid 
by the national government. Their essence was voluntary collaboration 
of large municipalities and private enterpreneurs. Two other plans were 
proposed, however, which were to be based upon national subsidies. 
One called for free midday meals in the public schools of large cities; 53 
the other, supported by the Public Health Service, would designate re- 

52 Department of Agriculture, press release, January 14, 1939, p. 3. 

53 The N.Y.A. had been attempting to do this for high-school children from relief 
families, and many municipalities had taken steps in this direction. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 213 

gional areas of serious malnutrition and provide to the needy therein 
essential supplementary foods free or at small cost. This would extend 
the F.S.C.C.'s activities with emphasis on nutrition rather than on the 
removal of surpluses. All four plans were sallies into the field of increas- 
ing the domestic consumption of farm products. Admittedly they did 
not constitute a well-formulated program: "At first we had little more 
to go on," said the Secretary of Agriculture on March 13, 1939, "than 
the desire to accomplish something constructive." 54 

The Food-Stamp Plan 

During the search for methods of increasing consumption of grape- 
fruit and other surpluses many conferences were held with representa- 
tives of various distributive groups. In January, 1939, at a meeting in 
Chicago of the National-American Wholesale Grocers Convention a 
plan developed by the grocers was presented that proposed 55 

the issuance of "scrip" vouchers to unemployed and those of low 
incomes. The vouchers would permit recipients to purchase desig- 
nated food and foodstuffs at retail grocery stores at prices 50 per cent 
below normal. 

The Federal government would make up to the grocer the difference 
between the amount actually charged and the normal price. The 
cost to the government is estimated at $1,400,000,000 but supporters 
hold the program would wipe out agricultural surpluses. 

The plan was submitted to the National Food and Grocery Confer- 
ence Committee, composed of representatives from all divisions of the 
food industry from manufacturers to retailers. The Department ex- 
plored this proposal and at a meeting of the Committee on March 13, 
1939, announced an experimental food-stamp plan for surplus farm- 
produce distribution through the regular channels of trade. The plan 
was to be tried in a half dozen cities with populations from 50,000 up. 56 
In operation the plan called for the issuance of food stamps to needy 
persons receiving, or certified for, public aid. Each such client would 
be permitted to purchase a minimum value (varying according to size 
of family) of one type of stamp that could be used to purchase any food 

54 Remarks before a meeting of the Food and Grocery Conference Committee, Wash- 
ington, D. C, March 13, 1939. 

55 New Yor\ Times, January 25, 1939. 

^Ernest Lindley, in the Washington Post, March 12, 1939, reported the proposed plan 
and made the statement, "At an earlier stage of the New Deal, the plan would have been 
launched, with fanfare, on a nation-wide scale. Instead, after a year of brain work and 
several months of discussions with wholesale and retail distributors, it is to be tried ex- 
perimentally in about six small or medium-sized cities." 

214 Department of Agriculture 

product; in addition, he would receive, gratis, another type of stamp 
in an amount equal to 50 per cent of the value of those he purchased, 
which would be redeemable for specified food commodities. In other 
words, the plan sought to guarantee that the free stamps would produce 
an increased consumption: 57 

The proposed plans aim directly at increasing the domestic consump- 
tion of surplus food commodities. Issuance of the stamps will create 
purchasing power for commodities which are surplus now not be- 
cause the need for them does not exist, but because the persons who 
need them most cannot buy them. Records of Public Health Services 
and studies by the Bureau of Home Economics indicate widespread 
malnutrition and undernourishment, particularly on the part of 
children, in the homes of needy families in every state in the Union. 
Estimates have been made that many millions of people in the United 
States spend an average of $1.00 or less a week for food. Think of 
it; less than 15 cents a day per person for food! Such wholly inade- 
quate expenditures mean price depressing surpluses for farmers and 
diets for low-income families that are less than the minimum neces- 
sary to maintain adequate standards of health. The proposed plan 
is designed to raise this average to $1.50 a week per person for those 
eligible to participate in the program. It is our sincere hope that this 
plan in operation will prove the most simple and practical method 
developed so far for getting an increased flow of surplus agricultural 
commodities into the hands of those who need them. 

The plan was wholeheartedly endorsed by the National Food and 
Grocery Conference Committee 58 and, on April 18, 1939, it was an- 
nounced that it would be tried first in Rochester, New York. On May 
23, 1939, the Secretary of Agriculture stated that the stamp plan would 
apply at first only to food, but that at a later date "if satisfactory arrange- 
ments can be worked out with retail dry goods people, we may try the 
plan on cotton goods as well." 59 In the same address he said, "I recog- 
nize that such measures as the stamp plan, with the government sub- 
sidizing expanded consumption, are not the most desirable, and I hope 
are not the ultimate, solution to the problem of making abundance work 
for the American people." 

The food-stamp plan presented important aspects for students of pub- 
lic administration. It developed from efforts to meet the problems inci- 
dent to the surpluses of 1938, which were exacerbated by the bounteous 

57 Remarks by Secretary Wallace before a meeting of the Food and Grocery Conference 
Committee, Washington, D. C, March 13, 1939. 

58 See "An Experiment in Better Nutrition," Consumers' Guide, April 15, 1939. 

59 Address by Secretary Wallace at a luncheon program of the Retailers' National Forum 
sponsored by the American Retail Federation, Washington, D. C. May 23, 1939. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 215 

yields of that year and by the absence of effective production control. 
It developed also from the search for a more satisfactory administration 
of surplus disposal than that based upon distribution through state and 
local welfare agencies. In the search for an improved plan the Depart- 
ment called upon its own research facilities and also obtained the co- 
operation of trade groups. It was a trade group that first proposed a 
stamp plan, and the Department, in refining that proposal, consulted 
with the Department of Commerce, the W.P.A., the Treasury Depart- 
ment, and the U. S. Public Health Service in that Department. The 
application of the plan proceeded experimentally : additional cities were 
added as administrative machinery and experience developed. Though 
a more rapid expansion of the program might be anticipated, the admin- 
istrative techniques of refining a new program through experimental 
application were significant. 

The stamp plan constituted a frontal attack upon the problems of 
distribution. It sought to make available to the needy some of the 
nation's productive capacity and, simultaneously, to bring relief to 
farmers from the price-depressing efTects of surpluses and to improve 
business generally through an increase of the flow of goods through 
regular channels of trade. An improved diet is vital to the health of a 
large portion of our population; such improvement on a wide scale 
would mean not only an increased consumption of farm produce but a 
shift of a portion of the nation's consumptive capacity of particular types 
of foods, with a resultant shift in production. 


We believe that we can discern the shaping of nutrition problems 
into a spearhead of attack upon the farm and other economic problems. 
In 1939 the concept was relatively new and was still in the developmental 
stage. But it had the real advantage of popular appeal, which should 
develop support for all farm — and, perhaps, other — programs. The De- 
partment had long engaged in research in, and education about, nutri- 
tion. As far back as 1893 the Secretary of Agriculture recommended the 
consideration of questions of the use of agricultural produce as food 
for mankind. In a message to Congress President Cleveland subse- 
quently stated, "When we consider that fully one-half of all the money 
earned by the wage earners of the civilized world is expended by them 
for food, the importance and utility of such an investigation is appar- 
ent." 60 

60 Quoted in Consumers' Guide, January 2, 1939, p. 11. 

216 Department of Agriculture 

From 1894 to 1914 work on diets and nutrition was undertaken by 
the Office of Experiment Stations, and in 191 5 the States Relations 
Service was established with an Office of Home Economics "to investi- 
gate the relative utility and economy of agricultural products for food, 
clothing, and other uses in the home." 61 Nutrition constituted the basic 
work of this Office, and after its establishment as the Bureau of Home 
Economics in 1923 it continued to do pioneer work in this field. 
Through bulletins, radio broadcasts, news releases, and home-demon- 
stration agents it made its findings available to the public. It participated 
in a Survey of National Nutrition Policies by the League of Nations; 
it cooperated with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Resources 
Committee, the Central Statistical Board, and the W.P.A. in a study 
of consumer purchases. 62 

In a circular 63 prepared in November, 1933, by Hazel K. Stiebeling 
of the Bureau of Home Economics the yearly per capita quantities of 
various foods or groups of foods required for four types of diet were 
listed: restricted for emergency use, adequate at minimum cost, ade- 
quate at moderate cost, and liberal. Analysis of these data revealed a 
vital relationship between nutrition and land use. Not only would better 
nutrition result in an increased consumption of farm produce, but it 
would also mean an increased consumption of those protective foods 
whose production required more acreage per capita and caused less 
damage to the soils than cereals, grain, potatoes, and other crops that 
would be reduced. Better health, improved land use, increased farmer 
income, and security would follow better nutrition. 

In 1938 the Bureau of Home Economics calculated that "if the aver- 
age consumption of city families could be raised to the level of families 
whose diets cost less than $165 per person per year (1936 price levels), 
but whose food supply was rated as first class, there would be need for 
33 per cent more milk." 64 The Bureau suggested that the solution to 
the milk problem lay, not in the division among farmers, processors, 
and handlers of shares "in a too small milk can," but in an increased 
consumption and production of milk so that all would net greater bene- 


62 Published during 1939 and 1940. 

^Department of Agriculture, Diets at Four Levels of Nutritive Content (1933), Circ. 

64 "More Milk for Millions," Consumers' Guide, June 6 and 20, 1938. Research of the 
Bureau of Home Economics revealed a correlation between total family expenditures for 
food and their consumption of milk. City families spending 8 cents a meal per person con- 
sumed 2.3 quarts of milk per person per week; I J cents, 2.8 quarts; 14 cents, 3.5 quarts; 
17 cents, 3.6 quarts. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 217 

fits. It may be noted, too, that increased milk production would require 
more acres of grasslands to replace, perhaps, acres now devoted to sur- 
plus and soil-depleting crops. In 1939 Consumers' Guide stated, "In 
some way or another we must have more consumption domestically 
if the farm-surplus problem is to be solved. To bring this about con- 
sumers must have more income, or we must find ways of stretching 
out their present buying power, especially for low-income groups." 65 

Food for the Underprivileged 

Contributing to an increased consumption of farm produce were the 
relief programs of the national government : public works, work relief, 
C.C.C. activities, minimum wages and hours, social insurance, and, in 
the Department of Agriculture, farm security, and surplus commodities. 
The F.S.A. through its various programs encouraged home production 
of foodstuffs as a means of supplementing incomes from cash crops and 
of insuring a more adequate diet for its clients. This home production 
represented a complete short-circuiting of the lines of distribution. 

In 1933 a movement got under way seeking to provide adequate 
food for undernourished children. The F.E.R.A. and the Federal Sur- 
plus Relief Corporation cooperated with local groups in furnishing one 
meal a day to school children. The national government's part in this 
program was taken over in 1935 by the Federal Surplus Commodities 
Corporation and the W.P.A. Surplus foods purchased by the F.S.C.C. 
were distributed by the W.P.A. through state branches, which prepared 
the foods for consumption. Local funds were solicited to supplement 
surplus foods with others to make up a balanced diet. The emphasis in 
this program was definitely on nutrition, but note in the following state- 
ment how its effects branched out: 66 

Purpose of the plan is threefold: To build up young bodies handi- 
capped by the economic limitations imposed on grownups; to put 
millions of tons of unsaleable foods within reach of people possessed 
of hunger but of little money; and to give work to thousands of 
destitute women in preparing this daily luncheon menu served to 
children aged from 6 to 17. 

Nearly all the states participated in this program; free meals were dis- 
tributed in 7,000 schools; 130,000,000 lunches had been served by Jan- 

55 "Building for Bigger Consumption," Consumers' Guide, February 27, 1939. See also 
Gove Hambidge, "Nutrition as a National Problem," Journal of Home Economics, June, 

""One Square Meal a Day," Consumers' Guide, January 30, 1939. 

218 Department of Agriculture 

uary, 1939, and 15,000 W.P.A. workers were employed at that time. 67 

Campaigns for Better Nutrition 

At the annual convention of the Associated Grocery Manufacturers 
of America, Inc., in November, 1938, a proposal was submitted calling 
for the establishment of an institute of nutrition to be financed by gro- 
cery manufacturers and conducted under the auspices of leading uni- 
versities. Charles Wesley Dunn, general counsel to the organization, 
presented the plan in an address and stated: 68 

We have heard a lot about malnutrition in the United States, but no 
adequate information concerning its dietary causes or its prevalence 
is available. Scientists tell me also that little or nothing is known 
about sub-nutrition, adequate or Optimo nutrition. They have assured 
me that when the diet for optimo nutrition is worked out the life of the 
average adult can be lengthened by seven years or more, and that 
many of the ills which now sap the efficiency and health of people in 
all walks of life will disappear. 

Campaigns for better nutrition have by no means been restricted to 
the United States. In England free lunches were distributed to school 
children as early as 1907 after the discovery that half the army recruits 
failed to pass physical tests because of malnutrition in childhood. In a 
report of an inquiry on British agriculture in 1938, which contained a 
comprehensive analysis of the economic problems of farming in Great 
Britain, the fundamental guide for future agricultural policy was 
nutrition. 69 

We place in the forefront of our proposals the development of a 
national policy of improved nutrition. This represents in our judg- 
ment the most hopeful means of reconciling the objective of main- 
taining a substantial and prosperous agricultural industry with wider 
national purposes. From a broad sociological standpoint the improve- 

67 New Jersey school board voted not to accept federal help for free lunches: it was 
"un-American to build up the idea in children that the Government will provide." New 
Yor\ Times, November 24, 1939. 

e8 New ~Yor\ Times, November 29, 1938. 

™ British Agriculture, Report of an Enquiry organised by Viscount Astor and B. Seebohm 
Rowntree (1938), pp. 427-28. See a review of J. C. Drummond and Anne Wilbraham, 
"The Englishman's Food: Five Centuries of English Diet" in New Statesman and Nation, 
June 3, 1939. The reviewer, Raymond Mortimer, makes this interesting statement: "But 
governments and philanthropists continue to spend millions upon millions in curing 
diseases that are due only to faulty diet. Our fields fall out of cultivation, and our popula- 
tion starves. Two things are needed: first, to abolish the poverty which makes adequate 
nourishment unobtainable; secondly, to persuade people, when they have the means, to 
adopt a properly balanced diet. Perhaps the foreign threat to our safety and wealth will 
succeed where common humanity and sense have failed; and in order to provide enough 
cannon-fodder we shall at last see that at any rate young males no longer starve." 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 219 

ment of the nutritional standards of the population is clearly marked 
out as the sphere of the next large advance in social policy. As re- 
gards education, housing, insurance against the risks of unemploy- 
ment, sickness and old age, a system has been built up as the result 
of a long series of measures through which the efforts of individuals 
are supplemented by the organization and financial assistance of the 
State. It would be entirely appropriate, and given the maintenance 
of national economic progress, it would be perfectly feasible that a 
similar national effort should be made in the next generation to en- 
sure that the health and vitality of the population are no longer im- 
paired by inadequate or defective nourishment. From the agricultural 
standpoint an increased concentration on producing the "health- 
protective" food-stuffs is the most hopeful line of evolution for British 

By a resolution of the Sixteenth Assembly of the League of Nations 
in 1935 the Mixed Committee on the Problem of Nutrition was set up. 
In June, 1936, it published its interim report in four volumes; 70 its final 
report, appearing in August, 1937, under the title The Relation of 
Nutrition to Health, Agriculture and Economic Policy, gave recogni- 
tion to nutrition as a national problem: 71 

For nutrition policy to be effective, the problem must be recognised 
as one of primary national importance. During the past half century, 
standards of sanitation and housing have undergone remarkable 
changes in certain parts of the world; conditions which are to-day 
regarded as intolerable were fifty years ago considered normal. These 
standards are reflected in the greater welfare of the people. The 
present generation is effecting a similar change in its standards of 
nutrition. But the importance and future benefits of these new 
standards of nutrition to health and general well-being are not yet 
sufficiently widely recognised. It lies with Governments, supported 
by enlightened public opinion, to take the lead. 

A recommendation in the interim report that national policies of nutri- 
tion should be guided by a central (general-staff) body bringing to- 
gether the facts bearing on the problem for coordination and for eco- 
nomic and social action was repeated and the following statement was 
made: 72 

70 The report proper (Volume I): the Report on the Physiological Bases of Nutrition 
(Volume II); Nutrition in Various Countries (Volume III); Statistics of Food Production, 
Consumption and Prices (Volume IV). Other international organizations concerned with 
problems of nutrition are: International Labour Organization, Committee on Inter-Co- 
operative Relations, Advisory Committee on Social Questions, Health Organisation, Inter- 
national Commission of Agriculture, and the General Assembly of the International 
Institute of Agriculture. 

71 At p. 35. 

^Ibid., p. 50. 

220 Department of Agriculture 

While each country must decide on its own commercial policy, there 
is one principle the universal acceptance of which we would urge — 
namely, that adequate nutrition be one of the factors determining 
such policy. The advice of nutrition and social-economic experts 
should, in our opinion, be sought whenever a question of agricultural 
or commercial policy arises. The National Nutrition Committees 
which we have recommended would appear to provide a useful chan- 
nel through which this advice might be obtained. 

In the "Report of Popular Nutrition in Chile" of June, 1937, 73 we 
find this interesting statement of the relationship between nutrition 
and the economic and social life of a nation: 

Since there is a tendency to make good the shortcomings of the diet 
spontaneously when the family purchasing power increases, the main 
condition of any improvement in popular nutrition is an increase in 
that purchasing power. In comparison with this, all other conditions 
are merely secondary, though, naturally, they retain their own im- 

To increase purchasing power, then, is the central problem, not merely 
of nutrition, but also of the general economic and social life of the 
country. The two aspects of the problem — to increase the family in- 
come and to bring wages into a proper proportion to the prices of essen- 
tial foods — cannot be separated; they are inextricably intertwined in 
the fabric of economic life. 

The Assembly of the League of Nations in 1937 invited the Council 
to arrange for annual meetings of national nutrition committees. A 
publication of the League of Nations, Survey of National Nutrition 
Policies™ contains the statements and other facts presented at the second 
annual meeting by representatives of sixteen nations, including the 
United States. 75 The diversity and extent of national nutrition activities 
are significant. Each of the sixteen nations represented had already 
made special efforts — research, free distribution, special prices — to 
improve nutritional standards. One program should be noted here be- 
cause it applies to regular workers and involves private, not public, 
expense : the distribution of milk to industrial workers. 76 

73 League of Nations, Bulletin of the Health Organisation, June, 1937, p. 328. 

74 November 30, 1938. 

75 The United States delegate came as a representative of the Technical Committee on 
Food and Nutrition, which formed part of the Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate 
Health and Welfare Activities, established by President Roosevelt in 1935. Various sub- 
committees were appointed. The subcommittee on dietary policies of public agencies in- 
cluded "representatives of twenty-one governmental bureaux, nine of which were in the 
Department of Agriculture, which was the department most concerned with nutrition." 
Survey of National Nutrition Policies, p. 117. 

76 Ibid., p. 74. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 221 

The milk-in-industry scheme has also been successfully developed 
in the United Kingdom and, through it, industrial workers are able 
to have milk at work. There are stated to be now over 7,000 factories 
which employ nearly 2% million workpeople participating in the 
scheme. Consumption is at the rate of 8^ million gallons a year, 
having nearly doubled in twelve months. There is said to be no 
adverse effect on ordinary retail sales, while the scheme has led to 
decreased absenteeism and better health among the workers drinking 
milk daily. 

Nutrition and hand Use Related 

Good nutrition involves not only the type and quantity of foods con- 
sumed but also the adequacy of various mineral elements and other 
growth substances in such foods. Much remains to be discovered about 
the relationships of minerals and vitamins to the needs of man, on the 
one hand, and to the soil sources of such elements, on the other. That 
such relationships exist, however, is sufficiently well established to indi- 
cate the desirability of bringing into common focus the sciences — chem- 
istry, physiology, anatomy, pathology, physics, bacteriology, and others — 
that have separately contributed to the knowledge of nutrition. 

E. C. Auchter of the Department of Agriculture in a discussion of 
this subject points out that information about the physiological needs 
of human beings is abundant; that agricultural scientists are recognizing 
nutritional studies in their own and related fields; that the problems 
are complex and require considerable investigation and that such efforts 
are justified because of their importance to our national life. He notes 
further that research should be coordinated; that it is the responsibility 
of agricultural scientists not only to further quantity production but 
food production of the highest nutritional quality; and that certainly 
such efforts would lead to a thorough study of soils "from the stand- 
point of their suitability or unsuitability for the production of certain 
foods — including the possibility of amending them, if it can and should 
be done, so that they will give the people who live on them not just so 
many pounds of food, but all the complex and subtly balanced nutrients 
we humans need." This better nutrition would mean a general improve- 
ment in health, and 77 

It may also mean, among other things, that after thorough surveys 
and investigations certain soil areas may be found inefficient and 
undesirable for the production of food, although possibly suitable for 
the production of crops for certain industrial uses or for forests, parks 

■""The Interrelation of Soils and Plant, Animal and Human Nutrition," Science, May 
12, 1939. 

222 Department of Agriculture 

or recreational centers. It may mean that only certain crops should 
be grown in certain areas. 

Emphasis upon nutritional quality of foods leads back, therefore, to 
production and land use. The same terminal point is reached if nutri- 
tion is approached from an areal basis. We have already noted the home 
production program of the F.S.A. with improved diets as the principal 
objective. The extent and nature of home production will vary from 
region to region and from farm to farm. On many farms food for home 
consumption is produced incidentally to production for sale; on many 
other farms food production is primarily for home consumption. 
Whether supplementary food should be raised for home consumption 
involves many questions of cost, convenience, labor, time, and need; it 
becomes a problem of land use. Hazel K. Stiebeling in a discussion of 
the relation of nutrition to farm income, home production, and land 
use demonstrates the interrelationships that flow from the individual 
farm to the economic system : 78 

Farmers as producers covet as a market not only the table of city 
families but the table of other farm families, as well. But farmers 
as consumers must inquire whether the difference in efficiency of 
production in different areas is great enough to do more than offset 
the charges of transportation, processing, and other middlemen's 
services, and whether the economic system is stable enough that suc- 
cessful production of goods or services on one farm or in one part 
of the country is likely to enable the family to buy the products and 
services it does not produce but which are needed for well-rounded 

78 "Nutrition in Relation to Farm Income, Home-Production and Land Use," address at 
the Regional Extension Conference for Northeastern States, New York City, March 3, 
1939 (mimeo.). 

Similar criteria might effectively be applied to areas larger than the farm unit. Land- 
use planning for communities, counties, and larger regions might properly be guided 
by the economic relationships between the productive capacity and the nutritional needs 
of populations in each of these areas. An appraisal of costs of production, nutritional 
quality, effects upon the land, labor, retail price, taxation, and local industry should 
indicate those foods that can be produced and marketed for home consumption with 
greater economy to the local area and that should therefore be reflected in land-use plans. 
This planning would necessarily involve considerations of local marketing devices that 
would short-circuit many of the steps involved in a marketing system geared to a 
national, rather than to a local or regional, economy. State departments of agriculture and 
marketing have been active in this type of work and may be encouraged to make valuable 
contributions in collaborative efforts. An excellent presentation of the interrelationships 
of local, regional, and national economies and the advantages of a system based upon 
the highest development of each may be found in A.E. (George Russell), The National 
Being (1916). The local and state land-use planning committees may find that considera- 
tion of such an approach to land -use planning would not only increase the value of their 
work but, by seeking the representations of interested groups other than farmers, would 
make the work more effective. 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 223 

If a farm is really an egg factory, or fruit factory, or cotton factory, 
if every inch of land and every bit of labor is intensively and effec- 
tively marshalled for production, and if there is a remunerative outlet 
for the products, it may be that the best use of land, and of human 
and other resources is in the production of this one crop. 

But it is important to make sure that this is the case. One test is to 
determine whether the diversion of enough labor, capital, manage- 
ment, and land to provide a family garden or a poultry flock, or a 
cow, or a pig would cut into net cash returns to an amount exceeding 
the replacement value of garden produce, or the milk, or the eggs, 
or the meat. 

Even granting that it might cost more to produce food, for example, 
to keep a cow than to buy in the cheapest possible form the minimum 
amount of milk required for an adequate diet, we must still ask 
whether the more-than-minimum that might be available through 
home production is important enough in raising levels of living — in 
increasing dietary adequacy — to do more than compensate for a 
possible reduction in net cash income. The answer will depend of 
course on many factors, chiefly, perhaps, on the economic status of 
the family and its standards of living. 

And so when the problem of land use arises — what commodities shall 
be produced, what sold, and what retained for family use, or what 
shall be produced expressly for home consumption and who shall 
produce them, I think that the whole family should be called together 
to consider a plan for action. There will be need for all the facts — 
the outlook for prices of commodities bought and products sold; the 
resources of labor, capital, and management; probable income in cash 
and in kind, and a comparison of these with human needs for desir- 
able planes of living. 

Nutrition has already commanded the attention of national, state, and 
local governments. 79 Nations all over the world have addressed them- 
selves to the problems of undernourishment, the solution of which calls 
for an improvement in the distributive system whereby real needs will 
measure the consumption of goods and services, rather than demand 
within restricted purchasing power. Nutritional defects in a large por- 
tion of the nation's population support the need for an increase in 
quantity and a shift in type of foodstuffs consumed. A proper increase 
in consumption, therefore, would improve the general health of the 
population, reduce the farm surplus problem, and effect an adjustment 
in land-use practices incidentally beneficial to the soil. 

79 As a further sign of the increasing significance of nutrition in agricultural policy, we 
note that the Yearbook of Agriculture for 1939, entitled Food and Life, is entirely de- 
voted to this subject. 

224 Department of Agriculture 

To get such an increase in consumption, however, is a problem of 
distribution, and it is at that point that the inextricable relationship of 
agriculture with the whole national economic structure becomes so 
clear. One part of that structure is made up of marketing facilities 
wherein greater efficiency of operation, fair-trade practices, grades and 
standards for commodities and containers, and the reduction of trade 
barriers increase the amount and quality of goods the consumer can 
buy for his dollar and increase the returns to the producer. Thus, we 
are led back to production, in which adjustments for types of food and 
their nutritional qualities influence land utilization and rural life. 

In the Department nutrition has become increasingly influential in 
guiding agricultural policy. Administratively the Department's activ- 
ities in this field involved questions of general-staff facilities that would 
evaluate and advise upon the importance of nutrition in the determina- 
tion of future policies; in methods of coordinating marketing and dis- 
tribution, production, land use, and other programs of the Department 
in pursuance of such policies; and in developing collaborative efforts 
with other national agencies and with state and local governments. 

* * • 

The Department's activities in marketing and distribution have 
developed steadily, though for the most part fortuitously, over many 
years. Marketing activities embraced restricted segments of the distribu- 
tive system and sought, primarily, to protect the farmer in the sale of 
his produce. Periodically, however, activities were added to protect the 
interest of the consumer in the market place, either through special 
consumer-protection programs or through the injection of a consumer's 
point of view into regular farmer programs. Assignment of consumer- 
protection activities to the Department was largely adventitious but 
they remained to form a base from which the Department could launch 
a frontal attack upon the wider problems of distribution. Agricultural 
adjustment and other farm-relief programs of current years approached 
the area of distribution in their efforts to provide for the farmer a larger 
share of the national income. It has become increasingly clear, however, 
that the solution of the farm problem lies in the improvement of the 
whole distributive system. For the whole nation the surplus problems 
of agriculture are but one horn of a dilemma: the other is undercon- 

The Department has entered the distribution arena; that it can or 
would turn back is doubtful, but it is there confronted with complex 
administrative problems. Since problems of distribution are as broad as 

Marketing and Distribution (concluded) 225 

the national economy, the Department can play only a part in their 
solution. But even its limited role requires not merely close intradepart- 
mental coordination: collaboration with other departments and with 
other levels of government is imperative. Planning, policy formulation, 
priorities and organization, and other staff functions of the Department 
become central to the Department's participation in distribution. 

Chapter ii 

One factor in the allocation to the Department of public respon- 
sibilities for the human aspects of agriculture is the farm 
family's peculiar relationship to agriculture as a productive and 
commercial enterprise; another is the relationship between the consumer 
position of the farm family and its desire and ability to produce for its 
own needs. Furthermore, since farm population is scattered, it is at a 
disadvantage as compared with town population in the use of many 
social services and social institutions generally. Thus, problems of food, 
clothing, housing, health, and schooling present special forms in rural 
communities and are closely related to the single economic enterprise 
of the production of plants and animals. 

The Country Life Movement found no important reflection in the 
Department's activities until after Secretary Wilson's administration. 
A humanistic approach to agricultural problems — that, for example, of 
Messrs. Cooley, Butterfield, Plunkett, Galpin, Carver, and the Wal- 
laces — came relatively late; urban problems had already challenged 
Robert A. Woods, Jane Addams, and other explorers of the "city wilder- 
ness." Perhaps the tradition of the pioneers had led Americans to take 
for granted the life of the farmer and his family as one of unavoidable 
hardship and denial. Perhaps, too, the more romantic picture of the life 
of the earlier rural communities, portrayed at its best by Whittier in 
his Snow Bound, had persuaded us too convincingly that where there 
was so much good, public problems could not exist. Hamlin Garland's 
Main-Travelled Roads, published in 1891, with its realistic portrayal of 
the lot of farm families in the Middle West, was indeed resented by 
many of his readers for its harsh challenge to the prevailing assumptions. 

It was not an accident, therefore, that a concern for the human prob- 
lems of agriculture came, for the most part, to the Department and not 
from it. Under Secretary Houston, as we have noted, the Department 
began to recognize the social, as well as the economic, aspects of agri- 
culture and the presence of variations from the norm of the owner- 
occupier type of agriculture. Research in problems of the farm home 
and the rural community were initiated ; the development of rural com- 
munity organization was encouraged through units that later became 


Rural Life 227 

the Bureau of Home Economics and the Extension Service. Studies 
of tenancy were undertaken under the auspices of the Office of Farm 
Management; when the B.A.E. was established, provision was made, 
as we have seen, for rural sociological research. 

The Department's rural life activities greatly expanded in the thirties 
through the agricultural adjustment program and rural-relief efforts. 
They included various forms of assistance to various types of what 
were termed "disadvantaged rural families"; loans and grants, with 
farm and home plans to assist in rehabilitation ; some experiments in 
the resettlement of farm families in communities; assisting tenants to I 
become farm owners or to obtain a better type of lease; and some effort 
to enforce minimum standards or conditions for farm laborers, includ- 
ing migratory farm labor. The Rural Electrification Administration 
was placed in the Department under Reorganization Order No. 2 on 
July 1, 1939; 1 its program had an important bearing upon rural life 
generally through its encouragement of the extension of electricity to 
the farm by loans and through informational services. Rural life activ- 
ities were shared by the Department with other agencies, especially the 
Federal Security Agency, 2 which contained the U. S. Public Health 
Service, the Social Security Board, the Office of Education, and the 
W.P.A.; the Department of Labor, which contained the Children's 
Bureau, the Women's Bureau, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and 
the Department of the Interior, which in the Reclamation Service and 
the Indian Service had responsibilities for the well-being of special 
groups in agriculture. Thus, the policies of the Department of Agricul- 
ture related to rural life were only a part of those formulated by national 
governmental agencies, especially after 1933; all these national programs 
should be related to those of state and local governments having juris- 
diction in an area. Both national and state expansion, the one stimu- 
lating the other, were most marked in the depression years, but the 
tendencies went farther back and reflected the steadily increasing inter- 
dependence of our price system and our political economy generally. 
The growth in the complexity of the resultant problems of administra- 
tion can conveniently be traced from the earlier relative simplicity of 
research and informational services of 1915. 

X A press release of the Secretary of Agriculture of that date states, "As an administra- 
tion within the Department of Agriculture, R.E.A. will continue to make loans for self- 
liquidating rural electrification projects designed to bring urban advantages to farm homes, 
to lighten the burden of farm drudgery, and to provide the farmer with new oppor- 
tunities for efficient and economic production." See Rural Electrification on the March 
(1938) and The Electrified Farm of Tomorrow (1939), issued by the R.E.A. 

2 See above, p. 76, n. 16. 

228 Department of Agriculture 


The Department reached farm families through several of its units. 
The program of the Bureau of Home Economics 3 served this sector of 
the population as a research and informational center on food, clothing, 
and equipment. The wider significance of its nutrition studies has been 
emphasized in relation to farm income, home production, and land use. 4 

The Extension Service was the major channel through which the 
work of the Department, with that of the land-grant institutions, was 
brought to farm families. 5 Its agricultural home-demonstration and 
4-H Club agents in the counties, district leaders, state directors and 
specialists, and the staff of the Office of the Extension Service in the 
Department were engaged in facilitating the work of other state and 
national agricultural agencies and in collaborating with a network of 
local organizations of farmers, farm women, and rural youth. These 
local voluntary organizations became an important part of the institu- 
tional life of rural communities. Out of this development, which was 
in some respects comparable to the settlement movement in our cities, 6 
greater consciousness of rural social needs evolved, and programs were 
initiated. Although the work of the county agricultural agents was 
centered largely on production and marketing, at the time of this study 
problems of land-use planning were receiving an increased emphasis, 
which might stimulate some interest in wider civic aspects of local farm 
problems. Such a development was furthered also by the Division of 
Program Study and Discussion of the B.A.E., previously in the A.A.A. 
This section, in cooperation with state extension services, conducted 
conferences and institutes for extension agents and farm men and 
women for the discussion of problems of agriculture and of rural life — 
generally in their national and international setting; it also organized 
local discussion groups both for adults and for youth. 7 

8 See above, p. 38. 

*See chap. 10, above, at p. 215. See Hazel K. Stiebeling, "Nutrition in Relation to 
Farm Income, Home-Production, and Land Use," address presented at the Regional 
Extension Conference for Northeastern States, New York, March 3, 1939 (mimeo.). See 
also the address by Gove Hambidge, "Nutrition as a National Problem," given before the 
Sections on Agricultural Economics and Home Economics, Association of Southern Agri- 
cultural Workers, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 2, 1939 (mimeo.). 

5 We urge the reader to consult the cited studies of the county agent and of the Ex- 
tension Service by Gladys Baker and Russell Lord. The Extension Service Review, a 
monthly house organ, is a convenient means of following current developments, and at- 
tendance upon extension conferences and Farm and Home Week meetings is helpful. 

6 A noteworthy difference was the support of extension work by public funds. 

7 For a discussion of the program see Gladys Baker, op, cit., and Lord, The Agrarian 
Revival. See also Standards of Value for Program Planning and Building, Proceedings of 
the School for Washington staff of the B.A.E., Washington, October 17-20, 1939. 

Rural Life 229 

Home-Demonstration Programs 

The programs in home-demonstration work indicated most clearly 
the extent to which the Extension Service reflected in the local com- 
munity the rural life functions of national and state agencies. Its objec- 
tives were summarized in an official report in 1938 as follows: 8 

Home Demonstration Work includes those fields of learning that are 
generally recognized as of primary importance to the home. It 
utilizes Home Economics, supplemented by other fields of education. 
Home Demonstration Work, as determined by needs expressed by 
rural people includes the following objectives: 

1. To develop desirable standards for home and community living. 

2. To understand and appreciate the function and the relationships of 
the home in the social order. 

3. To obtain and manage an income, both money and nonmoney, 
which will contribute to better living. 

4. To plan and manage both productive and leisure time to the end 
that energies and resources may best be conserved and utilized and 
the maximum of satisfaction be gained. 

5. To promote and maintain health. 

6. To discover, develop and utilize leadership, especially among rural 
women and girls. 

7. To make such personal and family adjustments as are essential for 
individual and family security. 

8. To develop civic consciousness and willingness to assume responsi- 
bility in contributing to the public welfare. 

9. To utilize the results of scientific research in relation to rural home 
and family life. 

10. To discover and utilize the opportunities and satisfactions which 
may be derived from rural family life. 

The projects recorded in the 1937 report were in foods and nutrition, 
clothing, home management, house furnishings, parent education and 
child development, and the improvement of home grounds. "Newer 
trends" that were the subject of discussion included rural electrifica- 
tion, 9 housing, consumer education, county agricultural planning, and 
"farm and home unit demonstrations" in which a unified and compre- 
hensive plan for the farm both as a business and as a living unit was 

8 Department of Agriculture, Extension Service, "Report of Land-Grant College Com- 
mittee Studying Home Demonstration Work," November 17, 1938 (mimeo.). See also 
Florence L. Hall, "Report of Home Demonstration Work, 1937," Extension Circ. 294, 
November, 1938 (mimeo.). Miss Hall reported that during 1937 about 2,436 home- 
demonstration agents were employed in the state services; about 18 per cent of the farm 
families were affected by the work; and 198,518 women served as volunteer local leaders. 

9 This reflected the influence of the R.E.A., later a part of the Department, and the pro- 
motion of rural electricity consumer use and equipment by the T.V.A., both of which 
helped also to stimulate the interest of private utilities in this potential market. 

230 Department of Agriculture 

stressed. Thus, in rural communities, as in urban, the women's organi- 
zations seemed to surpass those of the men in leading to a consideration 
of the civic aspects of problems originating in an "interest." 

The 4-H Clubs 

The 4-H Clubs, sponsored by the extension program, brought boys 
and girls within the network of rural institutions that were developed 
after 1915. 10 Later another organization recruited from rural youth 
developed in the agricultural vocational courses in high schools, "The 
Future Farmers of America." Thus, both the Extension Service of the 
Department of Agriculture and the Office of Education, formerly of the 
Department of the Interior and after 1939 of the Federal Security 
Agency, were national sponsors for youth organizations in the rural 
areas. 11 The 4-H Club members participated in projects in agriculture 
and domestic science under the guidance of voluntary leaders in the 
community, with whom the county 4-H Club agents (or a district agent 
or the county agricultural or home-demonstration agent) cooperated. 12 
Thus, the Department participated in an important program of civic 
and vocational education and recreation for rural youth. This work — 
and that of the vocational agriculture and home economics courses in the 

10 See Department of Agriculture, Boys' and Girls' 4-H Club Wor\, Misc. Circ. No. 77 
( J 935)> and Organization of 4-H Club Work, Misc. Pub. No. 320 (1938). Note the work 
of the 4-H Club Studies Committee of the Extension Service and reports to the Association 
of Land Grant Colleges and Universities of the Older Rural Youth Committee and the 
Land Grant College Committee studying home-demonstration work. The Extension 
Service issues current reports (mimeo.) on various phases of extension work generally and 
programs and other materials on the annual national 4-H Club Camp in Washington. See 
"Function of Committee on 4-H Studies," "4-H Club and Older Youth Research," 
"Statistical Analysis of Negro 4-H Club Work," "An Anniversary Year Summary of 
Former 4-H Club Members Attending College," "Contributions of 4-H Club Work to 
Good Family Living." The American Youth Commission of the American Council on 
Education (744 Jackson Place, Washington, D. C.) issued several mimeographed bulletins 
based on its studies of the problems of rural youth; we have consulted the following 
(issued in 1938-39): by E. L. Kirkpatrick, "Status of Research Pertaining to Situations 
and Problems Among Rural Young People," "Recent Surveys Pertaining to Rural Youth," 
"Short Courses in Colleges of Agriculture"; by Agnes M. Boynton and E. L. Kirkpatrick, 
"Agricultural Extension Work with Older Rural Youth," "Vocational Training for Older 
Rural Youth"; by Joseph L. Lister and E. L. Kirkpatrick, "Rural Youth Speak"; and 
(no author named) "Rural Youth in Farm Organization and Other National Agency 

u There were approximately 1,150,000 4-H Club members and 150,000 members of 
the Future Farmers. The two organizations are usefully discussed in relation to rural 
education generally in Report of the President's Advisory Committee on Education, 
February, 1938, pp. 144-57; tne problem of coordinating these efforts is presented on pp. 
76 and 188. The Office of Education issued mimeographed reports on its regional con- 
ferences on agriculture at which the rural program was discussed. 

^There were, on July 1, 1938, 350 county club agents, 1,860 home-demonstration agents 
and 2,950 agricultural agents. See Report of the Committee on Older Rural Youth, 1938. 

Rural Life 231 

rural high schools — was particularly significant because the farm family 
lived in the midst of its occupation and was an economic unit, because 
it had more children, and because with a decreasing proportion of voca- 
tional openings in farming, rural youth moved into urban employments 
so far as they were available. 13 

The problem of unifying the rural educational activities influenced by 
the national government was the subject of comment by the President's 
Advisory Committee on Education. The Committee stated: 14 

The most conspicuous weakness in the provision for agricultural 
education results from an unsatisfactory relationship to the work of 
the Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service. While there appears 
to be full cooperation between local teachers of agriculture and ex- 
tension workers in many areas, relationships at the State level are 
unsatisfactory in a number of States, and the respective groups of 
Federal officials appear to have little cooperative contact with each 
other. Their relationships up to the present have been concerned 
mainly with delimiting their respective jurisdictions rather than with 
developing fields of possible cooperation. The Committee is not 
prepared to assign responsibility for this situation to either group of 
Federal officials, but believes that each should make a greater effort 
to cooperate with the other. 

The program of agricultural education fails to reach a majority of 
those who need such service. Provisions of the Federal statutes and 
activities of the Federal officials both appear conducive to a type of 
instruction that is expensive and not easily adapted to the conditions 
of small rural high schools. Some of the States have developed 
simpler and less expensive programs that can be adapted to the schools 
in which a majority of the rural high school pupils are enrolled, but 
these programs are not eligible for Federal aid. 

13 See the abstract of a radio talk by Floyd Reeves, Director of the American Youth Com- 
mission, "Rural Youth Faced with Special Problems," Bulletin of the Commission, July, 
1939. He states, "The rural parts of the country have been carrying heavy responsibilities 
for the care and education of our youth, many of whom later migrated to the cities. In 
1930, rural areas contained fully half of the nation's children of school age (5-17), and 
the proportion is undoubtedly higher now. It is estimated that of farm boys and girls who 
were 10 to 20 years old in 1920, approximately 40 per cent had left the farm by 1930. 
Since 1930 this migration has continued, yet there remain in farming sections many 
thousands of young people who would like to seek greater economic and cultural opportuni- 
ties in urban centers. It is probable that in the years ahead from one-third to one-half the 
rural young people will migrate to the cities in quest of wider opportunities. . . . The 
staff of the American Youth Commission has found that in the rural areas where the 
birth rate is the greatest the education and recreation opportunities are the poorest. In other 
words, the nation's future population in general is coming from the under-privileged groups 
where proportionately the educational facilities should be the greatest, not the least. 
Likewise, health services are much more inadequate in the rural communities than in urban. 
And job opportunities — the great need for youth everywhere — are fewer for rural than 
urban youth, limited though they are for the latter." 

14 See Report of the President's Advisory Committee on Education, p. 76. 

232 Department of Agriculture 

1 In 1925 the Purnell Act 15 provided for grants to the agricultural exper- 
iment stations broadening the scope of their work to include research 
in agricultural economics and rural sociology. On the passage of the 
Act, the Social Science Research Council established a temporary com- 
mittee to suggest ways of facilitating research in agricultural economics. 
Following the committee's report, a continuing Advisory Committee on 
Social and Economic Research in Agriculture was made a part of the 
Council's regular committee system. "The original committee was com- 
posed wholly of agricultural economists. Representation was first given 
to sociology in 1927 and has since been increased. In 193 1, representatives 
of forest economics were added." A series of bulletins, edited by John 
D. Black, was issued suggesting "Scope and Method" for various types 
of social and economic research in agriculture which the Committee 
believed needed emphasis, the opportunity for the prosecution of which 
was presented by the Purnell Act. 16 

The financing made available by the Act and the development of a 
program of research in the social aspects of agriculture by the B.A.E. 
led to a demand for personnel in these fields both by the Department 
and by the land-grant institutions. So great was the demand that there 
was fear lest this work be jeopardized by the appointment of people 
to responsible positions before they had received adequate training. 
In 1929, therefore, the Social Science Research Council acted favorably 
upon the proposal of its Advisory Committee on Social and Economic 
Research in Agriculture to establish research fellowships in agricultural 
economics and rural sociology over a period of five years to enable peo- 
ple working in these fields to finance additional research training. 

The previous indifference of many of the colleges of agriculture to 
the economic and social aspects of their subject had limited the oppor- 
tunities for training in these subjects. When the experiment stations 
were stimulated by the availability of Purnell Act funds to develop work 
in this field, the shortage of competent personnel was critical. Thus, 

15 43 Stat. L. 970. 

16 See Social Science Research Council, Decennial Report, 1 923-1 933 (1934), pp. 26-30, 
and also its subsequent annual reports. The members of the Advisory Committee and of 
its subcommittees on Special Graduate Training in Agricultural Economics and Rural 
Sociology and on Rural Social Case Work are listed on p. 26. Among the topics treated in 
the research bulletins were Public Finance in Relation to Agriculture, Agricultural Land 
Utilization, Rural Population, Rural Social Work, Agricultural Income, Marketing of 
Farm Products, Farm Labor, and Agricultural Land Tenure. Committee and subcommittee 
members were drawn from administration, research institutes, and college and university 

Rural Life 233 

the Advisory Committee reported to the Council that in 1926-27, of 288 
persons reported by the experiment stations as engaged upon research 
projects in the social sciences only 41 had obtained doctorates and a con- 
siderable number did not possess even a bachelor's degree. In 1929 the 
Federal Farm Board recruited agricultural economists from the colleges 
and universities into government service; other men trained in these 
fields were being engaged by agricultural and commercial organizations. 

The Council's program was administered by the Committee on Re- 
search Fellowships in Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, of 
which Edwin Nourse was chairman. Among the universities to which 
the fellowship holders chiefly elected to go for further studies were 
Harvard, Cornell, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Columbia, Chicago, and Cali- 
fornia. Many of the fellows subsequently occupied responsible positions 
in the Department of Agriculture and in the land-grant institutions. 17 
In the Committee's final report most of the deans of the colleges of agri- 
culture were recorded as being skeptical of the continuance of the then 
activities of the national government related to social aspects of agricul- 
ture and of future increased employment opportunities in this field. 
One or two expressed the belief, however, that in the future there would 
be a greater need in the fields of extension and agricultural publicity 
for workers who had received some training in the social sciences; there 
was general notice that those who had been trained in social research 
in agriculture had proved an important source for recruiting the per- 
sonnel of the emergency administrative agencies. There was agreement 
that the expenditure of $150,000 over the five-year period had been an 
excellent investment for the country in providing better-trained men 
for these administrative and teaching posts. 

This assistance to the training of agricultural economists and rural 
sociologists was most timely, despite the cuts in appropriations for the 
Division of Farm Population and Rural Life of the B.A.E. in the first 
year of the New Deal. The A.A.A. increased the demand for agricul- 
tural economists. The New Deal relief policies created research oppor- 
tunities for rural sociologists through the recognition of relief problems 
peculiar to rural people and through efforts to find relief work for white- 
collar unemployed under the guidance of experienced directors. Re- 

17 An account of the origin and first year of this program is presented in E. G. Nourse, 
"The First Year Awards of Graduate Fellowships in Agricultural Economics and Rural 
Sociology," Journal of Farm Economics, July, 1928, pp. 277-85. Further details of this 
program have been obtained from mimeographed material in the files of the Social Science 
Research Council, including "Final Report of the Committee on Fellowships in Agricul- 
tural Economics and Rural Sociology," September, 1934 (mimeo.). 

234 Department of Agriculture 

search in rural problems was a type of employment that could be di- 
rected by rural sociologists in land-grant institutions as a part of a 
national program. Thus, use could be made of the data on population, 
standards of living, and other items of importance made available by 
the relief records. The subsequent rural research program of the W.P.A. 
and of the F.S.A. in cooperation with the Division of Farm Population 
and Rural Life of the B.A.E. (which received additional funds from 
the F.S.A.) developed from this situation. 18 

The "Plan for Cooperative Rural Research" has been described in an 
official statement as follows: 19 

The preliminary steps in the development of the Plan for Cooperative 
Rural Research were taken almost immediately after the organization 
of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in order to meet the 
pressing demand for data concerning relief needs in rural areas. In 
August 1933, E. L. Kirkpatrick of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experi- 
ment Station joined the staff of the Federal Emergency Relief Ad- 
ministration as Rural Relief Advisor. He was responsible for 
bringing an initial group of rural sociologists to Washington to carry 
on research essential to the administration of the relief program and 
designed to portray the rural situation. Arrangements were quickly 
worked out for the appointment of a number of temporary State 
supervisors, usually well-trained rural sociologists and economists at 
the State college of agriculture, to handle the field staffs for rural 
surveys originating in the Washington office. The first considera- 
tion in selecting States to include in the early surveys was roughly to 
scatter the sample areas over representative parts of the United States, 
taking into account the principal type-of-farming areas. 

Much of the cooperative research during the latter part of 1933 and 
early 1934 was carried on in connection with the short-lived Civil 
Works Administration. Then, in July 1934, as a result of the pro- 
posed expansion of rural research a special Rural Section was organ- 
ized within the Division of Research and Statistics of the F.E.R.A., 
and Dwight Sanderson of the Department of Rural Social Organiza- 
tion, Cornell University, became the first Coordinator of Rural 

The mutual advantages to be derived from definitely tying up the 
rural research of the F.E.R.A. with the rural sociologists in the 
agricultural experiment stations was becoming increasingly evident. 
Only through considerable decentralization with heavy reliance on 
local knowledge of conditions could large-scale rural surveys be most 

18 See Carl C. Taylor, "The Work of the Division of Farm Population and Rural Life," 
Rural Sociology, June, 1939, pp. 221-28. 

19 S. H. Hobbs, Irene Link, and Ellen Winston, "Plan for Cooperative Rural Research," 
W.P.A., Series II, No. 17 (1938) (mimeo.), pp. 6-8. 

Rural Life 235 

satisfactory. Hence, in August 1934 formal cooperation in research 
on problems related to rural relief was offered to a group of about 
20 States with which informal arrangements had already proved ef- 
fective. The number of States rose almost immediately, however, as 
the advantages to be derived from the cooperative arrangement be- 
came evident. At the close of the year Dr. Sanderson returned to 
Cornell University. For the next few months, T. C. McCormick, 
who was already a member of the staff, served as acting coordinator 
until J. H. Kolb of the University of Wisconsin took over the work 
in March 1935. In the fall of 1935 Dr. Kolb returned to Wisconsin, 
and T. J. Woofter, Jr., of the University of North Carolina became 
Coordinator of Rural Research. 

This program followed most successfully the practice of joint collabora- 
tion of the national government and state governments, and it was most 
productive in stimulating both local research and the publication of 
research monographs and special reports by the W.P.A. 20 Forty-one 
states cooperated in this undertaking. 

Rural Relief 

The rural-relief problem was at once a part of the larger tragedy of 
the depression and at the same time one with its own characteristics. 
In both city and country communities local public resources were too 
limited to finance relief needs, and the national government assisted 
with various programs. The question was not that alone of taxation 
and borrowing; the fact that our economic system had become a national, 
and a part of an international, political economy made recourse to the 
national government necessary if meliorative and reconstructive efforts 
were to have any hope of success in stimulating the functioning of a 
system in which employment would be available. 

In general, the "Recovery Program" of the Roosevelt Administration 
was based upon this conception, and agriculture was only a part of the 
larger national economy envisaged in its program. The decline in indus- 
trial employment was a severe blow to rural areas not only for the depress- 

°The following sample of titles of research monographs and special reports will convey 
the nature of this research. A subject bibliography of the state bulletins is given in the 
report by Hobbs, Link, and Winston, op. cit., pp. 38-56. Research Monographs: I. Six 
Rural Problem Areas, Relief — Resources — Rehabilitation; II. Comparative Study of Rural 
Relief and Non-Relief Households; V. Landlord and Tenant on the Cotton Plantation; 
VIII. Farmers on Relief and Rehabilitation; IX. Part-Time Farming in the Southeast; XI. 
Rural Youth on Relief; XIII. Effects of the Wor\s Program on Rural Relief; XIV. 
Changing Aspects of Rural Relief; XV. Rural Youth: Their Situation and Prospects; XVI. 
Farming Hazards in the Brought Area; XVII. Rural Families on Relief. Special Reports: 
Areas of Intense Drought Distress, 1 930-1 936; Five Years of Rural Relief. 

236 Department of Agriculture 

ing effect on their markets, but even more for the shutting off of 
opportunities for the employment of surplus farm population. The 
higher birth rate of the rural areas and the relative decline in agricul- 
tural employment as compared to employment in other pursuits 
accounted for the stream of rural people flowing to the industrial centers. 
With the depression not only was this channel blocked, but also a back- 
flow resulted throwing increased numbers on relief in rural commu- 
nities. The shutting off of money remittances from former rural folk 
employed in industry to their relatives back home was also a blow. 

Features Peculiar to Rural Relief 

Some features of the relief situation were peculiar to rural areas. Un- 
usually costly natural catastrophes occurred during the depression, 
catastrophes in part caused or exacerbated by our long-time inadequacy 
in natural resources policies, such as floods and dust storms. Thus, par- 
ticular areas suffered not only from the economic derangements gener- 
ally characteristic of the depression, but also from the temporary or 
permanent loss of their base of operations. In some areas this factor was 
of relatively long standing and the situation was beyond repair. The 
problems of the Great Plains and of the Great Valley bottoms, as of the 
Lake States Cutover Area and of much of the Old South, were there- 
fore peculiarly difficult. 

Rural relief was also an especially difficult problem because the nation 
was not prepared for its diagnosis and treatment. An official told of 
preparing a bulletin in his earlier years in the Department in which he 
referred to the subject of tenantry. The then Secretary of Agriculture 
struck the term out, because he did not desire to have the Department 
give official recognition to it or to the situation that it implied. In a 
textbook in rural sociology — one of the earliest — the author well conveyed 
earlier attitudes on certain rural problems which subsequently came to 
the fore: 21 

The status of being a land tenant in America is as yet one stage in the 
slow procedure of acquiring private property in agricultural land, 
where land inheritance does not normally obtain. Rural tenant and 
landlord, the personages figuring in the economic institutions of a 
land tenantry, create a decided social situation, the aspects of which, 
however, become acute and problematical only when a community 

a C. J. Galpin, Rural Life (New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1918), pp. 25, 
26. See also pp. 1 19-21 for a reference to child labor on the farm. A discussion that may 
be cited to show later changes in attitudes is that by Carl C. Taylor, Helen W. Wheeler, 
and E. L. Kirkpatrick, Disadvantaged Classes in American Agriculture , Social Research 
Report No. VIII of the F.S.A. and the B.A.E. (April, 1938). 

Rural Life 237 

as a whole is characterized by tenantry as a substitute for land owner- 
ship by the landworker. Here we strike an example of social pathol- 
ogy, which will require its own treatment. 

The only reference in this text to labor was to child labor on the farm; 
it was pointed out that the conditions surrounding child labor there 
were better than those affecting child labor in the city. M. L. Wilson 
has remarked: 22 

Before the great depression most of you, however, like me myself, 
thought of rural poverty either in terms of the county poor farm or 
of the shiftless people who lived across the tracks. Those of us in 
agricultural colleges and experiment stations who sought to work 
out systems of farming which would yield satisfactory farm incomes 
did not bother much about people whose circumstances were such 
that they could not get into the good income group. Thus, in most 
cases, agricultural institutions of research and education were prac- 
tically unaware of the extent and nature of poverty in rural areas. 

Although substantial advances have been made in rural sociology, 
research and the formulation of practical programs for rural social 
problems have lagged behind work on urban problems. No body of 
experienced administrators existed in the field of rural social work com- 
parable to those in urban organizations. The implications of a land-use 
approach for various types of rural social organization had not been 
developed; research in governmental aspects had largely been confined 
to historical aspects of law, or to structure, within the framework of the 
traditional conception of the owner-occupier of the farm; and the few 
examples that there were of cooperative or collective rural communities 
were generally associated with some form of religious or philosophical 
aberration. Ideas of regional planning were to be found chiefly among 
urban dwellers whose interest had originally been stimulated by city 

s "Problem of Poverty in Agriculture," Journal of Farm Economics, February, 1940, p. 
10. This address (with the discussion of it which is printed after it) includes a survey of 
the problem and of attitudes and social philosophies about it and proposals for research 
and action. See also James G. Maddox (of the F.S.A.), "Suggestions for a National Program 
of Rural Rehabilitation and Relief," Journal of Farm Economics, November, 1939, p. 881. 
He remarks, "The simple fact that rural poverty existed in this country was never openly 
recognized by our government until approximately five years ago. Public recognition of 
the fact has come still more slowly. The idea of poverty has been traditionally associated 
with city slums and the great mass of immigrants who came to this country during the 
last quarter of the last century. On the other hand, the 'barefoot boy with cheeks of tan' 
has been a symbol of rural life. He was a healthy little cuss; well supplied with vigor and 
vitamines; and though his clothes were not decorous, they were always warm and sturdy, 
and characterized by a rustic simplicity which appealed to our esthetic taste. . . ." This 
picture is another example of Joseph Davis' "agricultural fundamentalism." 

238 Department of Agriculture 

Rural Values Challenged by Relief 

The deeply rooted ideas and values of rural folk were challenged, 
too, by the relief problems of the depression. While the farm economy 
had become more commercial with the years and thus sustained the 
shocks conveyed throughout so sensitive a system, traditional attitudes 
did not easily yield. Some day, thought the dweller in the arid lands, 
there would be a "normal rainfall" and he would get a "normal crop"; 
the American tradition of marching westward, of the filling up of the 
country, would take care of the situation. In the country it was easier 
to measure neighbors in terms of the appearance of farms and buildings 
and to know the details of family life. The impersonal forces of price, 
of market and exchange were translated into personal terms. The aged 
could find a place by the fireside, and there was always the poorhouse. 
A proliferation of agencies and terms for dealing with special categorical 
relief groups, talk of shifting from arable crops to grazing and of land- 
use zoning were challenging and alarming. Any and every effort to 
raise the prices of farm commodities would be better understood than 
efforts that touched the traditional land and farm-management practices, 
the organization of local government, and the ways of life generally. 
And below the articulate groups were many rural people whose views 
were rarely known and who in some regions were largely voteless. 

Agencies and Personnel Administering Rural Relief 

It is against this general background that the extension in the 
thirties of the Department's rural life activities must be viewed. They 
were launched at a time of great need for immediate relief, before 
adequate recognition of, and research on, rural social problems had 
flowered and when there was no reservoir on which to draw of ad- 
ministrators trained in rural social problems, as contrasted to the natural 
sciences or home economics. The staffs of the extension services and of 
vocational agricultural schools were the nearest in background and ex- 
perience to the type of personnel required for line activities, and they 
were already being raided for other expanding agencies. Many of those 
participating in the programs growing out of the rural-relief situation 
were not from the land-grant institutions and were unfamiliar with the 
attitudes and procedures developed there; they were challenging some 
of the accepted attitudes noted above and were at the same time subject 
to the accusation that they were by-passing the older organizations. 

We record these facts that have contributed to the criticism leveled 
against the programs that we will shortly describe because they offer, 

Rural Life 239 

we believe, valuable evidence of the importance of research and plan- 
ning, which had been neglected by all institutions of government and 
higher education in the country. The uncertainty and confusion in this 
field extended not only to methods and procedure but to basic objectives; 
agencies that should have kept pressing long-time considerations of 
regional readjustment, for example, bogged down into immediate relief 
activities which, unless most carefully guarded 3 might entrench existing 
maladjustments. Most seriously of all, the bank and capital of good will 
and consent upon which a government activity is dependent had heavy 
drafts made upon it in many regions; in rural areas, as we have noted, 
this situation was most serious because it was interpreted in personal 
terms. Distrust engendered by one incompetent official, or one too 
obviously qualified by service to a party official, spread rapidly to the 
whole program. The social problems of our rural population are so 
serious that such distrust, in their continuance, will have costly con- 

It has been too easy to blame the early agencies — almost makeshift — 
for all these troubles and to forget the responsibility of local and state 
governments and of the institutions to which we have referred. Few 
local communities had studied their problems or were prepared with 
plans and agencies for hard times or were willing to face their problems 
and make the needed readjustments. Too many were willing to use 
every form of pressure for more outright subsidy and at the same time 
they rejected any responsibility for unpopular measures of land-use and 
governmental readjustment. On the whole, cities with a tradition of city 
planning and a competent civil service best utilized the various New 
Deal programs to make substantial advances in their public works 
programs, because they were ready with surveys and plans to utilize 
the national grants in putting the unemployed to work at projects that 
added to local resources. 

When the emergency relief programs were developing in 1933, re- 
lief to farmers was a challenging problem. 23 In several states a policy 

23 An excellent general introductory statement of these problems is Rupert B. Vance, 
"Rural Relief and Recovery," W.P.A., Social Problems, No. 3 (1939). Studies of the 
administration of the W.P.A. have been made by the Committee on Public Administration 
of the Social Science Research Council, and the relief origins of the F.S.A. are included in 
these studies. A volume based upon these studies is in preparation by Arthur Macmahon of 
Columbia University. The Division of Information issued a list of publications descriptive 
of the work of the F.S.A. Note especially leaflets, "Helping the Farmer Help Himself"; 
"The Rehabilitation Program"; "Helping the Farmer Adjust his Debts"; "Farm Security"; 
etc. The remarkable public reporting by the F.S.A. through its films ("The Plow that 
Broke the Plains" and "The River") and its photographic work are described by Edward 
Steichen in U. S. Camera Annual (1939), pp. 43~45' 

240 Department of Agriculture 

evolved whereby substantial loans were made to farmers on relief so 
that they could purchase tools, seeds, and livestock in order to become 
self-supporting. Other farmers who were located on farms incapable of 
supporting their families were aided in resettling on farms with better 
land or of a more appropriate size, so that they could "make a crop." 
Some who were on farms submarginal from the point of view of sup- 
porting farm families received payments wherewith to make a new 
start from the sale of their farms to a governmental agency, which as- 
signed the land to a more appropriate use. The policy of retiring such 
farms from agriculture had been, as we have seen, increasingly urged 
by the relatively small group of those who had become interested in 
land-use policies in the postwar period. The developing programs of 
the A.A.A., with their emphasis on the retirement of submarginal land 
from production, contributed to this policy. 24 Another part of the 
emergency relief program was assistance to farmers and their creditors 
in the readjustment of farm debts to a basis that could be met by the 
farmer and that would guarantee some return to the creditor. This 
program was administered through the new F.C.A., whereas the pro- 
gram of loans, and also of grants, was administered through relief 
agencies. Repayment of the grants was made by work on road-building, 
forestry, and similar activities that added to the capital value of the 
resources of the community. 

Another agency, established in 1933 under provisions of the National 
Industrial Recovery Act, was the Division of Subsistence Homesteads 
in the Department of the Interior, headed by M. L. Wilson upon his 
early retirement from the A.A.A. Here was developed a program for 
aiding the establishment of farm communities accessible to industrial 
or mining employment suitable for part-time or subsistence farming. 
In certain areas in which there was a stranded population, such as lum- 
ber towns and mining towns, where the raw materials had been 
exhausted or were too inaccessible, and where the entire population was 
on relief, it was hoped to encourage at least partial self-support by the 
development of subsistence farming. 25 We have noted that the problem 
of readjustment in agriculture was particularly acute in the Great Plains, 
where land settlement and land-use policies reflected the ignorance of 
Americans and immigrants of the nature of the area and the use to 

24 See Wendell Lund, "Bought Out by the Government," Land Policy Review, May-June, 
1939, pp. 22-30. 

25 Similar regions in Great Britain, popularly known as "depressed areas," were given 
special treatment by the national government through a new agency under a Commissioner 
for Special Areas. 

Rural Life 241 

which it could be put. In the South, in the Lake States Cutover Area, 
and in other regions great problems of adjustment of population to 
resources had developed. Urban industrial employment was no longer 
available for cushioning the shock of these adjustments. 


On April 30, 1935, the Resettlement Administration was established 
with Rexford Tug well, Assistant Secretary (later Under Secretary) of 
Agriculture, as Administrator. The Resettlement Administration was 
assigned the activities to which we have referred above and was financed 
from relief appropriations. A Resettlement Division took over the 
administration of about one hundred and fifty projects inherited from 
various agencies, chiefly the Subsistence Homesteads Division of the 
Department of the Interior and the projects instituted by relief agencies. 
A Division of Land Utilization 26 was charged with the purchase of 
submarginal land and its reconversion to more appropriate uses and 
the employment of the people thus affected on forestry, construction 
of dams, roads, and similar tasks of employment. 

A Rehabilitation Division drew its functions from the relief agencies 
and from the F.C.A. It continued the work of farm-debt adjustment 
and administered loans and grants to farmers with the view of enabling 
them to become self-supporting. These loans were accompanied by a 
system of guidance of the farmer through farm-management plans 
and household budgeting administered through the county office of 
the Resettlement Administration. Assistance was also given to co- 
operative and community services through loans for equipment the 
use of which would be shared. Cooperation with local medical societies 
also made possible the development of group health programs. 

This was a time of great confusion, with so many new organizations 
and activities in the national government, and the new agency was born 
into this atmosphere. The sharp political conflicts developing out of the 
campaign of 1936 brought Under Secretary Tugwell under fire because of 
his reputed influence as an adviser to the President. 27 Consequently, the 

38 Subsequently transferred first to the B.A.E. and later to the Soil Conservation Service. 

27 We mention this general criticism, as distinguished from the criticism leveled against 
him as head of an operating agency (the Resettlement Administration) to underline the 
fact that as an adviser to the President in what we term a general-staff capacity he was as- 
sociated with responsibility for various policies of the Roosevelt Administration on fronts 
other than agriculture. His position was anomolous, pardy because there was no provision 
either for nonpolitical general-staff assistants attached to the Executive Office of the Presi- 
dent (later made possible through the creation of posts of Administrative Assistants in that 
Office) nor had there been thought through the political implications of the highest directive 
posts in the executive agencies. At that time, the Resettlement Administration was in theory 

242 Department of Agriculture 

new agency was subjected to an unusually seyere scrutiny; administra- 
tive difficulties were dramatized that were incident to the putting to- 
gether of formerly scattered agencies and inherent in a task involving 
cooperation with many other agencies of the national government and 
with local agencies all over the United States. Thus, certain activities of 
the Resettlement Administration received a distorted emphasis. The 
annual report, for example, was criticized in the Senate because of its 
elaborate presentation of the Administration's work. The Greenbelt 
towns, which were suburban "satellite" communities constructed by 
the Resettlement Administration, were also objects of attack. These 
criticisms tended to conceal the fact that the bulk of the work done by 
the Resettlement Administration was in the field of rehabilitation. 

The Farm Security Administration 

On December 31, 1936, the Resettlement Administration was trans- 
ferred to the Department of Agriculture, and on September 11, 1937, it 
was renamed the Farm Security Administration. In 1939 its activities fell 
within three major functions: rehabilitation, homestead projects, and 
farm purchase for tenants — a program allocated to it by the Secretary 
of Agriculture following the passage of the Bankhead-Jones Act. 28 
Under this Act loans for a forty-year period with annual payments of 
4.3 per cent, including interest and amortization, were made available 
to selected tenants to enable them to purchase farms. The program was 
administered through county committees of farmers. The apportion- 
ment of available funds to states was based upon the extent of rural 
population and of tenancy. Supplementing this program was one that 
aimed at the improvement of leasing arrangements for tenants. 29 

The rehabilitation program included the standard loan accompanying 
a farm-and-home plan worked out with the county rehabilitation super- 

a separate agency, although its head was the Under Secretary of Agriculture, and thus it 
was in what might be termed a "personal union." The criticism leveled at Mr. Tugwell for 
his presumed general political views inevitably was a factor affecting attitudes concerning 
the Resettlement Administration, which was also, of course, the subject of attack for its 
own actions and policies. 

28 See Law and Contemporary Problems, October, 1937, entire issue devoted to farm 
tenancy; see also, Henry C. Taylor, "What Should be Done About Farm Tenancy," 
Journal of Farm Economics, February, 1938. Farm-tenancy legislation administered by the 
F.S.A. reflected the important Report of the President's Committee on Farm Tenancy 
( J 937)- A useful summary is provided in H. C. Larsen, "Tenant Purchase Program," 
Agricultural Finance Review, November, 1939, pp. 35~43- 

29 See "The Flexible Farm Lease" (pamphlet issued by the F.S.A.) ; John Baker, "A 
New Lease for a New South," Land Policy Review, July-August, 1938, pp. 7-10; L. C. 
Gray, "Improving Our Land Tenure Systems" (mimeo., B.A.E.). 

Rural Life 243 

visor and the home-management supervisor. 30 There were approxi- 
mately two thousand county offices, over which were the district offices 
with a district supervisor, and the state offices with a state director and 
an associate director of home management. The program was coordi- 
nated through the state office with the state, land-grant, and other 
agencies. There were twelve regions, each under a regional director 
and each with staffs including legal and financial managers and advisers 
in farm management, home management, business management, labor 
relations, personnel, and information. An engineer was also assigned to 
each region. The extent of the rehabilitation program may be estimated 
from the fact that up to January 1, 1939, loans had been made to 650,000 
farm families, totaling $232,410,369. Of this amount about $72,000,000 
had already been repaid. In addition, grants totaling $23,000,000 had 
been made to 250,000 families. These grants were designed to meet 
emergency situations caused by droughts, floods, and similar catastro- 
phes. Both loans and grants were financed from relief appropriations. 31 

Significance of Rehabilitation Activities 

These activities of the F.S.A. were clearly a new and significant de- 
velopment in the Department. They stimulated and supported further 
research of the B.A.E. in this field; an important series of social re- 
search reports was issued through the collaboration of the two agencies. 32 

30 "Appropriate consideration is given to acreage allotments and benefit payments made 
by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration; to land use recommendations of the 
Bureau of Agricultural Economics; to cropping and erosion-control practices recommended 
by the Soil Conservation Service; and to technical services available from the Extension 
Service, the experiment stations, and the vocational agricultural and home economics de- 
partments of local schools." Report of the Administrator of the Farm Security Adminis- 
tration (1938), p. 3. 

31 A most interesting and suggestive parallel to these activities of the F.S.A. is found in 
the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Program in Canada in the arid region of the plains. There 
is a striking similarity between the causes of agricultural distress and the programs de- 
veloped to deal with the situation there and in the American Great Plains. See Report on 
Rural Relief, 1930-1937 (Ottawa, Canada, 1939); "Report on Proceedings Under the 
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act for the Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 1938" (mimeo.); and 
"The Drought Area Defined," address by George Spence, Director of Rehabilitation 

32 These reports include: John B. Holt, An Analysis of Methods and Criteria Used in 
Selecting Families for Colonization Projects; Erich Kraemer, Tenure of New Agricultural 
Holdings in Several European Countries; L. S. Dodson, Living Conditions and Population 
Migration in Four Appalachian Counties; E. A. Schuler, Social Status and Farm Tenure — 
Attitudes and Social Conditions of Corn Belt and Cotton Belt Farmers; Marie Jasny, Family 
Selection on a Federal Reclamation Project — Tule La\e Division of the Klamath Irrigation 
Project, Oregon-California; Karl Shafer, A Basis for Social Planning in Coffee County, 
Alabama; A. D. Edwards, Influence of Drought and Depression on a Rural Community — 
a Case Study in Has\ell County, Kansas; Carl C. Taylor, Helen W. Wheeler, and E. L. 
Kirkpatrick, Disadvantaged Classes in American Agriculture; E. L. Kirkpatrick, Analysis- 
of 70,000 Rural Rehabilitation Families; C. P. Loomis and L. S. Dodson, Standards of 

244 Department of Agriculture 

The Department's earlier publications in this field had been strikingly 
different in nature: Rural Planning, Arbor Day, Rural Libraries, Rural 
Community Fire Departments, Hospitals for Rural Communities, Com- 
munity Buildings for Farm Families, and The Rural Church and Co- 
operative Extension Wor\. The later researches, it will be noted, re- 
flected a recognition of the existence of disadvantaged rural classes. 33 
Research in rural sociology, which remained the responsibility of the 
Division of Farm Population and Rural Life of the B.A.E., became 
of greater importance to the Department because of the operating pro- 
grams of the F.S.A. The problem remained of integrating the research 
of the F.S.A. with that of the Bureau of Home Economics and with 
the rural unit of the Division of Social Research of the W.P.A., as 
well as with the land-grant and other interested institutions. 34 It was 
basically a problem of priorities and personnel. 

The rehabilitation program had several points of interest to students 
of administration. We have referred to the long-time problems — not 
common to this program alone — of the adjustment of national systems 
treating special categories to the needs and resources of a local com- 
munity as a whole. Obviously no rural community in the current stage 
of our economy could provide comparable special services to such dis- 
advantaged farm families. Nor could the readjustment of families in 
terms of land use be made without the coordination of the efforts of 
all levels of government. In certain major problem areas, such as the 
Great Plains, the Lake States Cutover Area, and the cotton belt, a 

Living in Four Southern Appalachian Mountain Counties; C. P. Loomis and Dwight M. 
Davidson, Jr., Standards of Living of the Residents of Seven Rural Resettlement Com- 
munities; W. F. Kumlien, C. P. Loomis, et ah, The Standard of Living of Farm and 
Village Families in Six South Dakota Counties, 1935; C. P. Loomis, Joseph J. Lister, and 
Dwight M. Davidson, Jr., Standards of Living in the Great Lakes Cut-Over Area; C. P. 
Loomis and O. E. Leonard, Standards of Living in an Indian-Mexican Village and on a 
Reclamation Project; C. P. Loomis and B. L. Hummel, Standards of Living in Six Virginia 
Counties; L. S. Dodson, Social Relationships and Institutions in an Established Rurban 
Community, South Holland, Illinois; Conrad Taeuber and C. E. Lively, Migration and 
Mobility of Rural Population in the United States; C. P. Loomis, Social Relationships and 
Institutions in Seven New Rural Communities. Note also Farm Population and Rural Life 
Activities, quarterly publication of the B.A.E. 

^L C. Gray, "Disadvantaged Rural Classes," Journal of Farm Economics, February, 
1938. See also Taylor, Wheeler, and Kirkpatrick, op. cit. 

34 This problem is discussed by Carl C. Taylor, "The Work of the Division of Farm 
Population and Rural Life," Rural Sociology, June, 1939. See also "The Field of Research 
in Rural Sociology," B.A.E., October, 1938 (mimeo.). This report outlines the field of 
rural sociology, indicates accomplishments in the field and the types of research in progress 
in 1937, and sets forth future needs and prospects for rural sociological research. A useful 
bibliography is appended. There is no discussion, however, of the administration of re- 
search programs. 

Rural Life 245 

period of adjustment extending through many years will be required. 35 
There was no expansion of the resettlement program observed at the 
time of this study. Nevertheless, it seemed probable that both in the 
administration of the then existing projects and in special problems of 
organization and construction this experience would influence future 
developments. We have in mind not only the widely discussed Green- 
belt towns, which were not really central to the resettlement program 
generally as it affected rural life, 36 but also the F.SA.'s work in farm 
communities, subsistence homesteads, and scattered farms. Even by 1940 
the data on construction costs and standards available from these ex- 
periments were of great value in the formulation of rural housing 
policies. Still more important was the light thrown by this experience 
on the development of a more adequate living for farm families through 
various cooperative devices, particularly in those areas requiring radical 
readjustment of farm programs. 37 

35 The attitude of members of the House of Representatives from different sections of 
the United States toward this relatively new activity was reflected in the debate over the 
appropriations for the F.S.A. in June, 1939. Note the remarks, for example, of Represen- 
tative Case of South Dakota, Congressional Record, June 15, 1939, p. 10182; Representa- 
tive Leavy of Washington, ibid., June 13, p. 10006; Representative Johnson of Oklahoma, 
ibid., p. 10045; Representative Wright Patman, ibid., p. 10062; and the general debate, 
ibid., June 16, pp. 10310-24. 

36 Despite criticisms of their cost these communities are already influencing standards of 
suburban development. See John Dreier, "Greenbelt Planning," Pencil Points, August, 

37 We have in mind adjustment in the Plains from arable farming to grazing with more 
intensive agriculture in selected, better-watered spots; in the cotton belt where machinery 
and other factors displace large numbers of farm workers; and in the cutover regions gen- 
erally. See, for example, Charles R. Walker, "Homesteaders — New Style," Survey Graphic, 
June, 1939, p. 377. See also the processed collection, "Reprints of Articles Concerning 
Homestead Projects of the Farm Security Administration Which Have Appeared in The 
Atlanta Journal, The Weekly Kansas City Star, The Memphis Commercial Appeal, The 
Columbia State, and the Memphis Press-Scimitar," issued by the F.S.A., May 15, 1939. 
Note, however, a less-favorable view of the collective farm idea presented by Calvin B. 
Hoover in "Agrarian Reorganization in the South," Journal of Farm Economics, May, 

W. F. Baxter describes the Coffee County Farms project: "In a true sense, the work is 
neither a land program, a resettlement program, nor a rehabilitation program. It is an 
area or county program into which have been brought the activities of Federal, state and 
local bodies so that the problems of the whole county might be solved. . . . The plan for 
Coffee County includes rehabilitation of the population, reconstruction of the educational 
and public health systems, land-use, education in the home and improved recreational and 
social opportunities. The Farm Security Administration is extending financial aid and agri- 
cultural guidance to about 600 families in the county. . . . Money for schools, teachers, 
nurses and other public service personnel is received from various agencies. Agricultural 
Adjustment Administration and Soil Conservation payments are an important factor in 
the improved financial status of Coffee County farmers. . . . The Farm Security Adminis- 
tration is remodeling one school house and is constructing three more. . . . Vocational 
teachers are being employed and one-half of those available are assigned to the schools while 
the others work in the homes. ... A new public health program, with three county 
health nurses in residence, is bringing much-needed medical care to more than 30,000 

246 Department of Agriculture 


Students of public administration could also profitably observe the 
operation of the tenancy program in their own localities, states, and 
regions. 38 Title I of the Bankhead-Jones Act seems as significant a 
herald of social change in the United States as the Forest Research Act 
of 1 891 and the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. The difficulties of adminis- 
tering a program recognizing variables of human individuals and in- 
dividual farms were great. The voluntary county committees, with their 
three farmer members, had the extremely difficult tasks of examining 
and recommending applicants and of appraising the farms proposed for 
their purchase. There were difficulties, too, in coordinating the work of 
the F.S.A. and the land-grant institutions in the development of the 
program so that there would be as little duplication of effort as possible 
and a maximum of cooperation. 

Farm Labor 

The problem of farm labor also came to be recognized in the 
thirties. 39 The migratory farm worker, indeed, received dramatic treat- 
ment at the end of the decade by the novelist John Steinbeck and in 
the motion picture based on his novel. 40 The acceptance by the Depart- 
ment of responsibilities in this field was reflected by the studies of the 
A. A. A. on the effect of adjustment programs upon tenants, share- 
croppers, and farm laborers, and in the establishment by the F.S.A. of 

persons. A group health plan has been set up with the cooperation of the State and County 
Medical Boards. . . . Information on sanitation, health habits and proper diets is 
brought to each family through the public health nurses, the schools and the vocational 
teachers as they work in the homes. A County Health unit, under the supervision of a 
county medical officer, has cooperated with the Health Association during the year. . . . 
Cooperative purchasing, processing and marketing are conducted in connection with an 
existing cooperative organization, the Enterprise Farmers' Exchange. Four cooperative 
canning services are being established. . . . Improved school houses in four localities are 
providing community meeting places. A lake, camping grounds and picnic areas have 
been provided so that residents in different areas of the country are not isolated from their 
neighbors. The new planning for Coffee County, plus the active leadership of the County 
Council, is beginning to show results in the economic, civic and social progress of Coffee 
County." "Coffee County, Alabama — A Demonstration in County Planning," Planning 
and Civic Comment (April-June, 1939). 

38 See above, p. 228, n. 5. 

89 See Lowry Nelson, "The Agricultural Labour Situation in the United States," Inter- 
national Labour Review, June, 1938, p. 754. 

40 See The Grapes of Wrath (1939), and Carey Mc Williams, Factories in the Field 
(1939). See also Davis McEntire, "Migrants and Resettlement in the Pacific Coast States," 
Land Policy Review, July-August, 1938; "The Migrant Follows the Crops," Social Wor\ 
Today, December, 1938; "Migrant Farm Labor: The Problem and Ways of Meeting It," 
(mimeo.) issued by the F.S.A. ; Paul S. Taylor and Edward J. Rowell, "Patterns of Agri- 
cultural Labor Migration Within California," Monthly Labor Review, November, 1938. 

Rural Life 247 

camps for migratory farm workers, chiefly in the Pacific region. 41 While 
the recognition of farm labor problems through social legislation may 
be delayed in the United States, it is probable that we shall see more 
attention given to this subject. 42 

The novelty of governmental recognition of agricultural labor prob- 
lems is illustrated by the fact that 1938 witnessed the first meeting of 
the Permanent Agricultural Committee of the International Labour 
Office. 43 An American delegate was present. 44 The Committee included 
both wage earners (including "settlers, share-farmers, etc., who from 
several points of view are simply wage earners") and "small farmers 
and owners" in the category of agricultural labor falling within the 
scope of the Committee's work. 45 Cooperation was urged in the study 
of relevant questions with the International Institute of Agriculture; 
the studies of rural hygiene of the Health Section of the League of Na- 
tions and of the League's Mixed Committee on Nutrition were noted 
as well as the relation of the social to the general economic problems of 
agriculture. The Committee addressed its discussions to the topics of 
standards of living, hours of work, holidays with pay, wage regulation 
and child labor, and the social effects of mechanization and rationaliza- 
tion in agriculture. 

The tendencies in agricultural labor problems affecting public policy 
have been summarized by Mr. Nelson: 46 

Domestic factors which must be considered of outstanding impor- 
tance in the United States are: 

(1) The mechanisation of cotton culture, which for a hundred years 
has largely resisted mechanisation; 

(2) The further mechanisation of corn and sugar-beet production; 

(3) The differential birth-rate in favour of the rural classes, result- 
ing in a perennial surplus of labour beyond the needs of agriculture; 

(4) Unstable land-tenure arrangements, with a possible trend to 

41 The effect of the A. A. A. program on tenants and laborers is discussed in Nourse, 
Davis, and Black, op. cit., pp. 340-53, especially at pp. 347-49 and 351. Labor provisions 
of the Sugar Act are discussed in Agricultural Adjustment, 1937-38, pp. 57-58. See also 
"The Southern Negro on the Farm," a mimeographed statement issued by the F.S.A. 

42 This problem was reflected in conflicts in 1939 over the Wages and Hours Law and 
over various state and national statutes relating to labor relations and social insurance. The 
problem is most acute in the Pacific and the southern states, where agriculture approaches 
the factory system in the emphasis upon large-scale single-commodity production. 

^"Social Problems of Agriculture," Record of the Permanent Agricultural Committee 
of the I.L.O., February 7-15, 1938 (Geneva, 1938); see also "The First Session of the 
Permanent Agricultural Committee," International Labour Review, June, 1938, pp. 697- 

^Lowry Nelson, Professor of Rural Sociology, University of Minnesota. 

45 "The First Session of the Permanent Agricultural Committee," op. cit., p. 703. 

^Nelson, op. cit., p. 763. 

248 Department of Agriculture 

even higher rates of tenancy or larger numbers of people in the farm- 
labour class, or both; and 

(5) Greater concentration of land-ownership, and increase in the 
size of the farm unit. 

Should the trend towards mechanisation continue unabated, with a 
concomitant "enclosure" movement and increasing concentration of 
land-ownership, the United States may be confronted in the near 
future with the existence of an agricultural proletariat of consider- 
able magnitude. This development, which is already under way, 
would be a relatively new phenomenon in rural American life. It 
would be a disturbing contrast to the traditional family farm, where 
the occasional hired man enjoys a social status not markedly different 
from that of the family for whom he works. 

Such a development would likely bring with it a larger measure of 
group consciousness on the part of the labourer and the employer 
alike. It would, no doubt, ensure the success of efforts to organise the 
farm labourers for purposes of collective bargaining. Such efforts have 
not been conspicuously successful in the past, though attempts have 
been made since 19 10 to effect the organisation of migratory la- 
bourers' unions. In recent years the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, 
the name of which is self-explanatory, has met with some success 
in gaining membership among the tenants and share-croppers of the 
South. These efforts at organisation are not relished by the land- 
owning farmers, whose attitude is definitely opposed to them. 

A development of this kind will make necessary the enactment of 
provisions in the Social Security Programme to cover the needs of 
farm labourers. Indeed, there is need for such provisions at the present 

In view of the unsettled outlook for the future, with its portent of 
possible distress among agricultural workers due to an increasing 
surplus of labour and to changes in technology and the commerciali- 
sation of agriculture, the Government of the United States should take 
into account more definitely than it has done heretofore the welfare 
of labourers when framing its agricultural policy. 

In the Department responsibility for research in this field was vested 
in the Division of Farm Population and Rural Life of the B.A.E. 
Other agencies of the national government were also interested in agri- 
cultural labor problems. The Children's Bureau of the Department of 
Labor, for example, published studies of child labor in agriculture. 47 
The United States Employment Service, transferred on July 1, 1939, 

47 See "Child Labor and the Work of Mothers in the Beet Fields of Colorado and Michi- 
gan" (1923), "Children in Agriculture" (1929), "The Welfare of Children in the Cotton 
Growing Areas of Texas" (1924). 

Rural Life 249 

from the Department of Labor to the Federal Security Agency, 48 
maintained the Farm Placement Service in cooperation with state 
employment exchanges. 49 


A by-product of the activities of the Resettlement Administration and 
of the F.S.A. that might become a major factor in rural life programs 
was the construction of rural houses. 50 Attention had previously been 
given to farm housing and household equipment by various agencies in 
the Department. This earlier research was reflected in the bulletins on 
which the Bureau of Home Economics, the Bureau of Agricultural 
Engineering, the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, and the B.A.E. col- 
laborated. 51 On March 14, 1939, Secretary Wallace issued a 
memorandum 52 appointing a committee on rural housing with the 
following membership: C. B. Baldwin, F.S.A., Chairman; Monroe 
Oppenheimer, Solicitor's Office; Wallace Ashby, Bureau of Agricultural 
Engineering; Frank J. Sette, Secretary's Office; Donald C. Blaisdell, 
Secretary's Office; Roy Hendrickson, Office of Personnel; Louise 
Stanley, Bureau of Home Economics; and Oris V. Wells, B.A.E. Its 
purpose was 

to consider suggestions for a program of rural housing for the entire 
country and to make recommendations regarding methods which 
might be followed to alleviate slum conditions in rural areas and to 
recommend such steps as may be desirable to assist farm families in 
securing the benefits of both private and Federal financial aid in im- 
proving housing conditions among the farm population. 

The widening of interest in rural housing was no doubt stimulated 

48 House Doc. 262, 76th Cong., 1st sess., "First Plan on Government Reorganization," 
Part 2, sec. 201, p. 11. 

49 See Raymond C. Atkinson and others, Public Employment Service in the United- 
States (1938), chap. 25, "Farm Placement Service"; "Work of the Farm Placement Serv- 
ice," Congressional Record, July 6, 1939, p. 12226; and Lewis T. Nordyke, "Mapping 
Jobs for Texas Migrants," Survey Graphic, March, 1940, p. 152. 

50 See W. W. Alexander, "A Review of the Farm Security Administration's Housing 
Activities," Housing Yearbook (1939), pp. 139-50; see also his address on rural housing 
at the Institute of Citizenship, Atlanta, Georgia, February 15, 1939 (F.S.A., mimeo.). 

^See the following Farmers' Bulletins: Planning the Farmstead (1132); Farmhouse 
Plans (1738); Modernizing Farmhouses (1749); Rammed Earth Walls for Buildings 
(1500) ; Adobe or Sun-Dried Bric\ for Farm Buildings (1720) ; Fire-Protective Construction 
on the Farm (1590); Farm Plumbing (1426); Heating the Farm Home (1698); Con- 
struction of Chimneys and Fireplaces (1649); Farmstead Water Supply (1448); Simple 
Plumbing Repairs in the Home (1460); Maying Cellars Dry (1572) ; Sewage and Sewerage 
of Farm Homes (1227); and Oil Burners for Home Heating (Circ. No. 406). 

62 No. 811. See also Department of Agriculture, Housing Requirements of Farm Families 
in the United States by Maud Wilson, Misc. Pub. No. 322 (1939); and The Farm- 
Housing Survey, Misc. Pub. No. 323 (1939). 

250 Department of Agriculture 

in part by the need for rural support for the housing program initiated 
for urban low-income families. A proposal to amend the United States 
Housing Act of 1937 by including specific provision for rural housing 
passed the Senate in June, 1939. 53 On the occasion of the introduction 
of this amendment Secretary Wallace wrote a letter to Nathan Straus, 
Administrator of the United States Housing Authority, which was 
read in the debate, in which he said : 

While various agencies in the Department of Agriculture have been 
engaged in the program of improving housing conditions in rural 
areas, these agencies are not able to serve the lowest-income farm 
groups living under the worst housing conditions. 

It is for these reasons that I would welcome the extension of the 
U.S.H.A. program to the rural housing field. I am glad that you 
appreciate the very close relationship between the entire farm economy 
and the problem of rehousing the low-income farmer. In my judg- 
ment, the proposed program of rural housing can only be effectively 
carried out through cooperation between your agency and the De- 
partment of Agriculture. The whole problem of housing in rural 
areas is one which requires special treatment because the sources, 
amounts, and stability of farm income present such different prob- 
lems from those involved in an urban housing program. The coopera- 
tion of the Department of Agriculture and the U.S.H.A. would 
make it possible to bring to this problem the housing experience of 
your agency and the agricultural experience of this Department. 

The Department's activities designed to assist the more distressed 
rural homes, however, were at best a makeshift except when they sup- 
plemented the programs of local communities and were based upon a 
careful exploration of the needs and resources of regions in which the 
opportunities for employment were determined. Relief and housing 
programs are especially dependent upon local understanding and par- 
ticipation, but at every point all rural life activities bring us to the 
problem of local needs, public services, and resources. 


In the role of owner and operator of forests, wildlife refuges, farms, 
and ranches, the Department directly affected local communities: pay- 

^Sen. 591, 76th Cong., ist sess., Congressional Record, June 8, 1939, p. 9620. The 
amendment would have extended the program of the United States Housing Authority of 
loans, contributions, and grants to public housing agencies so as to permit the latter "to 
rent or sell rural housing to farmers." Sec. 202 authorized the Authority and the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture to cooperate, authorized the Secretary to use the employees and facili- 
ties of the Department in the development of the program, and authorized the Authority 
to reimburse the Secretary for salaries and expenses. 

Rural Life 251 

ments were made to replace taxes, local employment opportunities 
were supplied, and greater economic stability was provided. In forest 
and in land-utilization project areas generally the Forest Service and 
the Soil Conservation Service might be the major economic enterprises 
present. 54 The Department might also, through its researches, contribute 
to more stable and profitable agronomic practices in areas, such as the 
cotton belt and the Great Plains, in which fundamental readjustments 
were required because of technological changes, soil exhaustion, market 
conditions, or other factors. 55 We would emphasize, however, that 
other agencies of the national government had functions related to 
local government that affected rural life. The social security program, 
with its financial and other aids to welfare and health services, and the 
programs of the Federal Works Agency illustrate the point. These 
lines of functional relationship ran vertically from the national gov- 
ernment through the state to local levels of government; the task of each 
local agency was to relate these activities horizontally in a comprehensive 
program adapted to its local needs and resources and to eliminate gaps 
in the public services. It is in this local level that the political scientist 
will be particularly interested. The Department, however, had no re- 
search or other unit comparable to those in agricultural economics 
and rural sociology of the B.A.E. equipped with political scientists 
trained to study problems of local government and to appraise the 
effect of national or state functional influences on the government of 
the local community as a whole; nor was there such a unit in any other 
national agency of the federal government. 56 Few, if any, such political 

04 We have shown, in discussing land use, the importance of integrating national public 
land policies with those related to other lands in the area because of the need for compre- 
hensive plans for employment, public services, and taxation in a local community. 

55 See E. L. Langsford and B. H. Thibodeaux, Plantation Organization and Operation in 
the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Area, Technical Bull. No. 682, Department of Agriculture 
(in cooperation with the Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station), May, 1939. The 
authors state their purpose as follows (pp. 3-4): "This study was conducted to determine 
the nature of plantation-management problems, and to provide information that should 
be helpful in planning desirable production systems. It is undertaken, in this bulletin, to 
describe the situation as to the organization, operation, and earnings of representative 
plantations in the area during the 5 -year period 1932-36, and to account for the major 
causes of differences in plantation earnings during that period; to examine certain aspects 
of the tenancy and labor situation on plantations; to present information on the labor, 
power, materials, and other items used in connection with different production methods; 
and lastly, to analyze the relative economic advantages of various adapted systems of plan- 
tation organization in the area. Throughout this bulletin, the major emphasis is on the 
economic aspects of plantation management, and only incidental consideration is given to 
sociological factors." 

56 The Social and Economic Research Division of the Department of Regional Studies of 
the T.V.A. was staffed with political scientists as well as economists and carried on studies of 
the effect of the Authority's program on local governments in the area. 

252 Department of Agriculture 

scientists were at the agricultural experiment stations or on the faculties 
of the colleges of agriculture, 57 but valuable work in problems of local 
government was initiated by some agricultural economists and rural 

There is need for a comprehensive view of local rural government as 
a basis for appraising the separate functions for which it is in some 
measure responsible. This need is all the greater because too frequently 
the organization of government is complex and responsibility is shared 
by a number of boards and officials. Well-meaning efforts to achieve 
certain objectives in a road, wildlife conservation, school, or welfare 
program based upon national and state grants may actually distort the 
general program of a local government and invite serious budget prob- 
lems. The integration of activities of various agencies of the national 
government that are directly related to rural life would be greatly 
stimulated if local governments were simplified and were strong in a 
leadership alert to see how national resources could be used to complete 
a program designed by the local community to fit its needs and re- 

The scattering of rural life activities in 1939 remained a challenge 
to the Department. The human aspects of agriculture were only recog- 
nized shortly before, and frequently the persons urging their importance 
were viewed as being apt to distract attention from the desirability 
of increasing the farmers' income. The social studies were, in this 
phase, relatively new and were more concerned with urban questions; 
their methods had not yet won confidence; and inevitably this general 
situation was reflected in their late development 58 as a part of the 
Department's research activities. In 1939 the relationship of national 
and state activities to local government had yet to be reappraised in the 
light of longer views and cooler detachment than had thus far been 

67 We believe that the departments of political science in the state universities especially 
have a responsibility for working with the agricultural economists and rural sociologists 
on problems of rural local government and that they have much to learn and to contribute. 
The work of M. P. Catherwood at the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell 
University illustrates an all-too-rare utilization of political science in the study of rural 

Books on local rural government of particular value are A. W. Bromage, American) 
County Government (1933); Lane Lancaster, Government in Rural America (i937); an d 
William Anderson, Local Government and Finance in Minnesota (1935). Useful bibliog- 
raphies on current writings on "Taxation and Local Government" are in the Agricultural 
Finance Review, published by the BA.E. 

68 We think it is significant that the 1940 Yearbook of Agriculture was to be devoted to 
"the economic and social problems of farmers in a changing world." 

Rural Life 253 

permitted by the catastrophic events of the depression; but that task 
would have to be attempted in the near future. 

The Department, through the researches of O. E. Baker, 59 L. C. Gray, 
and others, in the 1920's emphasized the importance of population 
tendencies and of the need for land-use research; the first Chief of the 
Division of Farm Population and Rural Life, C. J. Galpin, pioneered 
in the analysis of the local rural neighborhood and community. In 
cooperation with state and local institutions the Division faces in the 
1940 's the task of helping the solution of problems of local rural 
governments in the light of the responsibilities and opportunities which 
lie before them and in view of the current fundamental tendencies in 
American life. The functions of agricultural production, marketing, 
distribution, and finance find their ultimate expression in the use of 
the land and the way of life of all classes and races in the local rural 
community; whatever depends upon the collective judgement of that 
community will be affected by the quality of its political institutions. 

69 Two studies that illustrate Mr. Baker's interpretation of population trends are "The 
Outlook for Rural Youth," Extension Service Circ. 223, September, 1935, analyzing occupa- 
tions, migration, population prospects, and the deductions from these facts for agriculture; 
and "Population Trends in Relation to Land Use," Extension Service Circ. 311, June, 1939. 

Chapter 12 

National intervention in agricultural credit facilitation was 
instituted under the Farm Loan Act of 1916, after studies of 
European experience. Activity in this field, however, was not 
assigned to the Department of Agriculture, but to a system of regional 
land banks operating under the supervision of the Farm Loan Board. 
Nevertheless, in the Bureau of Agricultural Economics a Division of 
Agricultural Finance 1 was established for research in this field; the 
Division of Agricultural Cooperation began its history in the same 
bureau but was later to be allocated first to the Farm Loan Board and 
then to the Farm Credit Administration, thus emphasizing the intent 
of encouraging the development of autonomous farm credit institutions. 
The War Finance Corporation entered the field of credit assistance 
through the banks in 1920; various seed and production loan programs, 
generally confined to areas in acute distress, were initiated after 1920. 
The Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929 extended national interven- 
tion further, with emphasis on cooperative marketing, as we have noted. 
The continuing farm distress led to the establishment in 1932 by the 
R.F.C. of twelve regional agricultural credit corporations, to make loans 
direct to farmers and stockmen. The creation of the F.C.A. by execu- 
tive order in 1933 was designed "to bring under one organization all 
Federal agencies and instrumentalities concerned with agricultural 
credit. Also it was the intent to amplify the application of cooperative 
farm credit through other permanent agencies, already conceived and 
shortly to be authorized by congressional action." 2 Such action was taken 
in the Farm Credit Acts of 1933 and 1937. 

The activities and agencies of the F.C.A. were classified in the Fifth 
Annual Report 2, "Into three groups: (a) those established as permanent 

a This Division edited the semi-annual Agricultural Finance Review of "current de- 
velopments and research in the field of farm credit, farm insurance, and farm taxation." 

2 Fifth Annual Report of the Farm Credit Administration (1937), p. 15. Note the 
charts of organization on p. 14. See also N. H. Wall and E. J. Engquist, A Graphic Sum- 
mary of Agricultural Credit, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Misc. Pub. No. 268, 
September, 1938. 

S P. 17. See, among the publications of the F.C.A., the following pamphlets: Agricul- 
ture's Needs for Special Credit Facilities, Economic Information on the Use of Farm 
Credit, Agricultural Financing through the Farm Credit Administration, Federal Land 
Bank, and Land Ban\ Commissioner Loans, Loans to Farmers' Cooperatives, Improving 


Agricultural Credit Facilities 255 

units of a complete and coordinated farm credit system; (b) those born 
of the emergency but which are still in operation; and (c) those in 
process of liquidation." Included in the first were the Federal Land 
Banks (twelve) and the National Farm Loan Associations — cooperative 
credit organizations through which most of the loans were adminis- 
tered; Production Credit Corporations (twelve) and their constituent 
cooperative Production Credit Associations; the Federal Intermediate 
Credit Banks (twelve) and a central and twelve district Banks for 
Cooperatives. Emergency activities included those of the Federal Farm 
Mortgage Corporation and the administration of emergency crop and 
feed loans and "Land Bank Commissioner Loans." Agencies in liquida- 
tion included the Regional Agricultural Marketing Act Revolving 
Fund, inherited from the Federal Farm Board, and the Joint Stock 
Land Banks. The F.C.A. was also charged with the chartering, regula- 
tion, and examination of credit unions. 

The outstanding feature of this program was the emphasis on co- 
operation : 4 

Cooperation exists not only between the Government and the per- 
manent credit units of the Farm Credit Administration but also 
between member-borrowers of those credit units, whether individuals 
or grouped in cooperative associations. The Government supplies the 
necessary initial capital; the borrowers participate in this capital struc- 
ture, each sharing a mutual responsibility for the benefit of all. 

Originally, the only banks in the farm credit system were the Federal 
land banks making long-term mortgage loans, and the districts 
were appropriately called Federal land bank districts. However, 
three other banks subsequently were set up in each district, each 
offering a different type of agricultural credit but all — taken to- 
gether — comprising a complete farm credit system. . . . 

In each district is established at one central city and in the same build- 
ing the Federal land bank, the Federal intermediate credit bank, 
the production credit corporation and a bank for cooperatives. 

The activities of the F.C.A. were closely related to other agricultural 
finance activities of the Department at four points. The Farm Security 
Administration — evolving in part out of earlier relief activities in 

Our Rural Credit Facilities (by W. I. Myers), Loans by Production Credit Associations, 
The Federal Intermediate Credit Ban\s. There is a long list of publications on cooperatives, 
including the monthly News for Farmers' Cooperatives. Among these are: Western 
Cattle and Sheep Areas, Organizing a Farmers' Cooperative, Cooperative Purchasing of 
Farm Supplies, Cooperative Marketing of Range Livestock., and The Surplus Problem of 
the Northeastern Milhjheds. 

* Fifth Annual Report of the Farm Credit Administration, pp. 15-16. 

256 Department of Agriculture 

rural areas — administered a system of small loans and grants to 
farmers, which it supplemented with farm- and home-management 
plans designed to assist in the rehabilitation of the client; it also ad- 
ministered the tenant-purchase program for assisting selected tenants 
in the purchase of farms. Here was an area, approached by the "sub- 
commercial" loan of the Land Bank Commissioner type, requiring de- 
limitation and cooperation between the F.S.A. and the F.C.A. 5 

There was also room for integrated administration of credit, land- 
use, and production control policies affecting farm management. 6 The 
treatment of foreclosed farm lands and the extension of credit to 
farmers, as well as the capacity of farmers to meet their credit obliga- 
tions, affected, and were affected by, considerations of land use. It might 
be desirable, for example, in the Plains to shift from wheat to grazing; 
but the shift could not be made without adjusting loans originally 
designed for a smaller arable farm unit, without blocking up several 
units into a single ranch, and without stocking the ranch with cattle. 
Credit considerations and the financial resources available for produc- 
tion are an integral part of farm management and hence of land-use 
programs. Again, the financing of marketing and the supplying of 
research, informational, and managerial advice services to producers' 
cooperatives brought the activities of the F.C.A. and of the marketing 
activities of the Department into a field of common interest and 
activity. 7 

Finally, both the F.C.A. and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics 
conducted research in the field of agricultural finance. The Economic 
and Credit Research Division was responsible for such research as a 
"service agency" of the F.C.A.; 8 the Division of Agricultural Finance 

5 A proposed amendment to the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act authorizing a farm 
mortgage insurance fund to be administered by the Secretary of Agriculture was debated 
in the Senate on July 6, 1939. (See Congressional Record, July 6, 1939, pp. 12096 ff.) The 
relationship of the proposed plan to existing activities of the F.C.A. and the F.S.A. 
was raised in the debate; it was pointed out that under the Reorganization Plan and 
Orders the Secretary of Agriculture would be in a position to coordinate all farm finance 

6 In the Sixth Annual Report of the Farm Credit Administration (1938) it is stated, 
p. 101, that the Economic and Credit Research Division in several counties "studied the 
relationship between the loan experience of farm credit units and land classification 
data as a guide in making agricultural loans. Data were obtained in the range territory, 
which will be analyzed to provide information useful in extending credit to livestock pro- 
ducers." See also F. W. Reinoehl, "The Co-ordination of Farm Management with 
Servicing of Farms and Loans," Journal of the American Society of Farm Managers and 
Rural Appraisers, November, 1938, pp. 64-72. 

7 The creation of a new subdivision on Cooperative Research and Service of the Coopera- 
tive Division of the F.C.A. was announced in News for Farmers' Cooperatives, November, 
1938, p. 2. 

8 See Sixth Annual Report of the Farm Credit Administration, p. 101. 

Agricultural Credit Facilities 257 

and other divisions as well — for example, that of Statistical and His- 
torical Research — carried on studies in agricultural finance. In the larger 
field of public credit and investment policy, integration of research and 
the formulation and administration of programs brought the Depart- 
ment into relationship with the Treasury Department, the Federal 
Reserve System, and the Federal Loan Agency. 9 

Thus, independent agricultural financial institutions were dealing 
with problems that were increasingly affected by programs of the De- 
partment. A joint committee had been established to perform a liaison 
function. In his first Reorganization Order, President Roosevelt al- 
located the F.C.A. to the Department, as a part of the program for 
reducing the number of direct lines of reporting to the Executive Office 
of the President; the transfer took place on July 1, 1939. 10 

The status of the F.C.A. within the Department was not easily de- 
fined, since the policy that had been emphasized had been one of en- 
couraging a relatively self-contained system of cooperative credit 
institutions, the credit problems of which, as we have seen, would never- 
theless be directly affected by agricultural programs for which the 
Department had been made responsible. The debate conducted over the 
question of relating independent agencies generally to the major depart- 
ments gave a greater importance to the fate of this particular transfer 
than the immediate question of farm credit policies. 11 That the signifi- 
cance of the action was appreciated by Secretary Wallace was evidenced 
by his statement about it. 12 

With the concurrence of the President, Secretary Wallace today 
issued the following statement regarding the general responsibility 
he will have for the work of the Farm Credit Administration on and 
after the effective date of Reorganization Plan No. 1 : 

The Farm Credit Administration, including the Federal Farm 
Mortgage Corporation, will not become an integral part of the 
Department of Agriculture. Responsibility for carrying out the many 
Federal Statutes which form the basis for several types of farm credit, 
for formation and execution of operating policies, for control of 
fiscal, personnel, legal, informational, and related affairs will remain 

9 See House Doc. 262, 76th Cong., 1st sess., First Plan on Government Reorganization, 
part 4, pp. 16-17. 

w lbid. 

"As we concluded our studies of the Department by July 1, 1939, we have not made 
any detailed study of agricultural financial programs, since these problems were, up to 
that time, not major responsibilities of the Department. The allocation of the F.C.A. to the 
Department is so useful an illustration of the administrative aspects of policy integration, 
however, that we have felt more than justified in sketching this background of the problem 
and in illustrating it by relevant statements of the chief responsible officials concerned. 

^Press release of May 22, 1939. 

258 Department of Agriculture 

with the Governor of the Farm Credit Administration. It is through 
such controls and procedures that the head of an agency discharges 
his public responsibility. Therefore, to this extent the Farm Credit 
Administration will be an autonomous Federal agency as heretofore. 

However, one clear purpose of the President's reorganization plan 
is to reduce the number of officials reporting directly to the President. 
Hence, the Governor of the Farm Credit Administration will report 
to the Secretary of Agriculture rather than to the President. The 
Secretary's responsibility will therefore be that heretofore exercised 
directly by the President. . . . 

These differences in responsibility of the Secretary and the status of 
the agencies concerned are dictated by several considerations. While 
the supervision of credit facilities in the farm field is closely related 
to the other agricultural land-use activities of the Federal Govern- 
ment, it also has an equally important relation to the work of the 
Treasury Department and of the Federal Loan Agency. Furthermore, 
not all of the functions of the institutions and corporations under the 
supervision of the Farm Credit Administration are exclusively 
governmental in character. The Farm Credit Administration exer- 
cises a type of Federal supervision over these agencies quite unlike 
the usual Federal supervision where the organizations and controls 
are wholly governmental. Supervising as it does many different types 
of organizations — involving among other things more than 8,000 
corporations — the Farm Credit Administration does not seem to be 
adapted to complete identification with the Department. The relation- 
ships involved can be handled best by a continuation of its present 
method of operation, with the Secretary of Agriculture exercising a 
coordinating supervision in only the broadest and most general way. 

On June 3, 1939, he issued the following memorandum : 

With the concurrence of the President, the Secretary of Agriculture 
hereby delegates to the Governor of the Farm Credit Administration 
all the powers conferred upon the Secretary of Agriculture and upon 
the Department of Agriculture with respect to the functions and 
activities, and the personnel, records, and property, of the Farm 
Credit Administration and the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation 
by section 401, part 4, of Reorganization Plan No. 1, which was 
transmitted by the President to the Congress on April 25, 1939, pur- 
suant to the provisions of the reorganization Act of 1939: Provided, 
That the Governor of the Farm Credit Administration shall report to 
the Secretary of Agriculture, rather than to the President, concerning 
the exercise of his powers: and Provided, further, That the Secretary 
of Agriculture shall retain authority to modify or rescind the pro- 
visions of this memorandum at any time. 

The difficulties of reconciling the concept of an autonomous agency 
with that of a department responsible for integrated policy through its 

The Department at Work 


i. The Department Buildings 

In this view from the Washington Monument the Administration 
Building with the East and West Wings are at the left, and the 
South Building is at the right. 

2. Breeding New Plants 

Agronomists of the Department experiment with soybeans to de- 
velop new varieties and to determine the fertilizer elements and 
conditions for best soybean growth. 

3. Classing Cotton 

Expert graders class cotton according to standards prepared by the 
Department in a room with controlled temperature and humidity 
to assure proper condition of the lint at the time classed. The porter 
delivers the cotton from the warehouse. 

4. Enforcing Plant Quarantine 

A plant quarantine inspector examines cars on main highways 
travelling to and from territory under quarantine regulations to 
check the spread of the Japanese beetle. 

5. Developing Vaccines for Animals 

Veterinarians, protected from infection by masks, use live chicken 
embryos in shells in the development of viruses and vaccines for 
animal diseases, such as sleeping sickness of horses. 

6. Distributing Surplus Food 

Through the Federal Food Stamp Plan the Department distributes 
fruit to low-income families over the counter of the corner grocery 
store. The fruit might otherwise have rotted on the trees. 

7. Checking Compliance with Crop Quotas 

The farm reporter for the county and a Dodge County, Nebraska, 
farmer consult an aerial map before going into the field to record 
crop acreages determined by the crop adjustment program. 

8. Rotating Crops in Terraced Strips 

Following the suggestions of the county agent, the farmer rotates 
strips of cotton, small grain, and annual lespedeza in terraces along 
the contours to prevent depletion of certain elements of the soil 
by one crop and to check improper drainage. 

U. S. D. A. Photograph by Purdy 

i. The Department Buildings 

2. Breeding New Plants 

U. S. D. A. Photograph by Peter Killian 

U. S. D. A. Photograph by Peter Killian 

3. Classing Cotton 

U. S. D. A. Photograph by Rot list ein 

4. Enforcing Plant Quarantine 

U. S. D. A. Photograph by Peter Killian 

5. Developing Vaccines for Animals 

J5 *'— • 

& " If * j 

as g 

•— ea - 


IBS SUI 5 - O 1 

■&qZ> " i 

lug og |AiJ> 

uiO 7. • « _^S.U 

[/. 5". £>. /4. Photograph by Peter Killian 

6. Distributing Surplus Food 

U. S. D. A. Photograph by Ackerman 

7. Checking Compliance with Crop Quotas 

17. 5". Z?. A Photograph by Welch 

>. Rotating Crops in Terraced Strips 

Agricultural Credit Facilities 259 

Secretary were evidently present after the transfer. Those difficulties in 
part grew out of controversy over farm credit policies arising out of 
concrete decisions as to farm foreclosures. 

The statement, from which we quote in part, published on December 
21, 1939, 13 revealed the attitude of F. F. Hill, Governor of the F.C.A. 

In view of the fact that I have resigned as governor of the Farm Credit 
Administration and have been relieved from active duties, as of the 
close of business today, I feel at liberty to comment on the announce- 
ment that came from the White House on December 14. In that 
announcement, as reported by the press, it was stated that Secretary 
Wallace had now decided that he should have control of the Farm 
Credit Administration, and that the organization will be merged 
and absorbed into the Department of Agriculture. I, therefore, have 
the following comments to make at this time: 

The sole issue in the present situation, so far as I am concerned, is 
whether the Farm Credit Administration should be continued as an 
autonomous Federal agency supervising cooperative credit facilities 
in the farm field or be absorbed and become an integral part of a 
large department of government responsible for the administration 
of a great many other programs. 

There are no personal issues involved, so far as I know. The question 
is simply as to what form of organization will best assure agriculture 
a dependable source of credit at reasonable cost over the years 
to come without placing an undue financial burden upon the 

In my judgment this can best be done by restoring the Farm Credit 
Administration to its former status as an independent agency of gov- 
ernment directly responsible to the Congress and to the President, 
and by continued efforts to strengthen and develop the self-supporting 
cooperative credit units under its supervision — the Federal land 
bank system, the production credit system, including the Federal 
intermediate credit banks, and the banks for cooperatives. 

After all, the principal job of the Farm Credit Administration is not 
the lending of Government funds but the supervision of a group 
of self-sustaining cooperative credit institutions in which the farmers 
of the country have more than $130,000,000 of their own hard- 
earned money invested. These institutions obtain most of their loan 
funds from the sale of securities to the investing public, which 
securities are not guaranteed by the Federal Government. 

The functions of the Farm Credit Administration are more closely 
comparable to those of the Federal Reserve Board or the Federal 

33 The Washington Post, Dec. 21, 1939. The statement of the Secretary is taken from 
the same source. 

260 Department of Agriculture 

Deposit Insurance Corporation than to those of the Department of 

The Secretary's statement of the situation, published the same day, 
announced the appointment of Mr. A. G. Black as Acting Governor and 
reads in part as follows: 

In line with my well known belief that a foremost obligation of Gov- 
ernment in service to agriculture is to help farmers deal cooperatively 
with their economic problems, I will look to Gov. Black and his 
associates to continue and improve the work of making loans and 
giving service to cooperative marketing and buying associations. 
They will be responsible for administering loans to individual farmers 
in a way that will completely safeguard the equities of borrowers and 
of investors. 

Of course the Farm Credit Administration faces some serious prob- 
lems. The fact that former Governor Hill felt it necessary two months 
ago to suspend most foreclosures in certain areas reflects the existence 
of these problems. I wish to place myself in a position to discharge 
my responsibilities for handling these problems as they are brought 
to me for consideration. 

My function as Secretary of Agriculture is to act as coordinator for 
the President in tying the Farm Credit Administration in with the 
rest of the agricultural work and thus keep all these public services 
to agriculture moving forward toward common objectives. To this 
end, my assistance and that of the staff officers of the department will 
be available to the officers of the Farm Credit Administration and 
the citizens served by the Farm Credit Administration just as it is 
available to the other agencies of this department and the citizens they 

I still stand on the memorandum which I issued on May 22, 1939, 
giving to the Farm Credit Administration administratively that 
autonomy which it requires for successful administration of the duties 
devolved upon it, but, as I said then, I must, under the duty imposed 
upon me by the law, be responsible for the continuation of the Farm 
Credit Administration's present method of operation by exercising a 
coordinating supervision in only the broadest and most general way. 

The action taken now has nothing whatever to do with detailed 
administration, involves no change in administrative policy of the 
particular agencies of the Farm Credit Administration, but is necessary 
in order to integrate the policies of the Farm Credit Administration 
and those of the Department of Agriculture to the general policy of 
the Government of the United States in respect to all agricultural 

Agricultural Credit Facilities 261 

The issues centering in the relation of agricultural credit to other 
agricultural policies were the subject of debate during the sessions of 
Congress in 1940; we can here only underline the evidence supplied by 
this incident of the existence of problems of general departmental policy 
that emerged from the constituent operating units. The balance between 
departmental policy and the programs of the operating bureaus, and of 
both with other related departments of the national government, con- 
stituted a major problem of administration. 

Chapter 13 

Responsibility for administering the Department's substantive 
activities rests upon the line agency — generally called a bureau. 1 
^Historically these agencies were largely semiautonomous, but 
the Department's growth between 1915 and 1940 created the need for 
aids to the Secretary and to the bureaus themselves in the development 
of departmental policy in which each bureau might play its appropriate 

The older line agencies, in which emphasis was mainly, although not 
exclusively, upon production problems, were the Bureaus of Animal 
Industry, of Dairy Industry, of Plant Industry, of Entomology and 
Plant Quarantine, and of Agricultural Chemistry and Engineering, and 
the Forest Service. A second group, reflecting the growing interest in 
problems of marketing and of consumer services related to agriculture, 
included the Bureau of Home Economics as well as several agencies 
later placed under the general supervision of a Director of Market- 
ing: 2 the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Commodity Exchange 
Administration, the Division of Markets and Marketing Agreements, 
the Sugar Administration, and the F.S.C.C. 3 A third group comprised 
the so-called "action agencies" : the A.A.A., the Soil Conservation Serv- 
ice, and the F.S.A., and later set up within the Department, 4 the F.C.A., 
the Commodity Credit Corporation, and the R.E.A. 

Most of the personnel of the older bureaus were trained in the 
natural sciences during a period in which the emphasis was inevitably 
upon detailed and specialized physical researches in laboratory and 
field plot. The newer line agencies reflected the growing influence of 

a Most of the older bureaus have been described in service monographs published by The 
Brookings Institution: Weather Bureau (1922), Bureau of Public Roads (1923), Office of 
Experiment Stations (1924), Bureau of Animal Industry (1927), Bureau of Plant In- 
dustry (1927), Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration (1928), Bureau of Chemistry 
and Soils (1928), Bureau of Biological Survey (1929), Bureau of Dairy Industry (1929), 
Forest Service (1930), Plant Quarantine and Control Administration (1930), Bureau of 
Entomology (1930), Bureau of Home Economics (1930). Valuable biographical studies 
of bureau chiefs in the Department will be found in Arthur Macmahon and John Millett, 
Federal Administrators (1939), pp. 319-36. 

2 The work of this organization is described in Marketing Activities (a monthly publi- 
cation of the Agricultural Marketing Service), July, 1939, pp. 1-2. 

3 The last three agencies were previously associated with the A.A.A. 

4 July 1, 1939. 


The Line Agencies 263 

general economic and social inquiries and programs, and their personnel 
was more frequently trained in agricultural economics, rural sociology, 
and various agricultural trades. 5 


All these bureaus operated under the direction of chiefs (in some 
newer agencies entitled administrators) and through divisions, sections, 
projects, and work units. Their internal organization included, in ad- 
dition to the line hierarchy, units that administered the housekeeping 
or auxiliary tasks, such as financial and personnel administration, under 
an assistant chief or business manager. Most of them maintained the 
largest part of their force and activity in the field, directed through 
regional, state, and field station or project units of organization. Internal 
organization and procedure varied greatly, particularly in field activities. 
After the establishment of the Extension Service in 1914 an effort was 
made to clear most of the Department's direct relations with the farmer 
through the cooperative extension services in the states, which were 
financed jointly by the national and the state governments. The Depart- 
ment, however, had other working relations with the state governments : 
notably through the Forest Service and the state conservation or forestry 
departments; through the Bureau of Public Roads and the state highway 
departments; and through the marketing services with the various state 
marketing agencies and other state departments having marketing or 
public health functions. There was never either on the state or on the local 
level any comprehensive coordination of the organizations and activities 
of all levels of government participating in the agricultural function. 

Of the newer agencies the A.A.A. gave greatest emphasis to the use 
of existing Extension Service facilities in the application of its program 
locally; it gave substantial strength to the Service — at a time when it was 
financially pressed — by financial contributions as well as by relating the 
Service to its activities. The Soil Conservation Service developed its 
own demonstration projects; it not only made working agreements 
with the state extension services, but it also dealt directly with indi- 
viduals and with local soil conservation districts. The F.S.A. had some 
local projects of its own with which, of course, it had direct relations; 
it also had its own personnel on the local level for the administration 
of its rehabilitation and tenancy programs. 

The head of the A.A.A. incumbent in 1939 came up through service in county and 
state A.A.A. organizations and as Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture. The F.S.A. 
similarly had a personnel recruited from quite different sources than the older Bureaus of 
Animal and Plant Industry. 

264 Department of Agriculture 

None of the line agencies was self-contained. Each turned to some 
of the others for assistance in attacking its problems. No reshifting of 
activities could prevent this need for cooperation and collaboration. It 
was possible, nevertheless, that the organization might be further uni- 
fied: the activities of the Bureau of Dairy Industry might be returned 
to the Bureau of Animal Industry and those of the Bureau of Ento- 
mology and Plant Quarantine, to the Bureau of Plant Industry. Other 
considerations, however, such as size of the unit and relations with 
interest groups and other units of the government, were more weighty. 
Then, too, the possibility was discussed of consolidating in one line 
agency all the Department's activities with which the farmer had some 
contact in the field. 6 When one appreciates that this move would in- 
clude the amalgamation (under the assignment of activities to the De- 
partment in 1939) of the A.A.A., the Soil Conservation Service, and 
the F.S.A., the problem's importance and difficulty are apparent. 

The fundamental relationship between organization and function 
and policy at once becomes clear. If, indeed, the A.A.A. were to em- 
phasize policies of soil conservation and the best agronomic practices, it 
would seem logical that it eventually be absorbed into the Soil Con- 
servation Service. What, then, would be the relation of this agency to 
the Extension Service and to the F.S.A. ? Should the latter be absorbed 
in part into the functions of local governments and in part into the 
F.C.A.? Merely to ask these questions shows how far-reaching are the 
problems of policy that are involved. They will not be answered quickly 
and can most profitably be studied only by the observation of develop- 
ments over a period of years. 7 Bureau interdependence is well illustrated 
by the existence of a great network of interbureau committees charged 
with the various projects characterizing the Department's research work. 
Many different sciences may be drawn upon in a single project, and one 
bureau may perform services for other bureaus because it possesses the 
requisite staff and equipment. 

The line agencies strengthened the forces making for continuity in 
the Department. They were, for the most part, manned by permanent 

6 See "Memorandum of the Secretary for the Chiefs of the Soil Conservation Service, 
Forest Service, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Extension Service and Office of Land 
Use Coordination," January 31, 1939, for an example of interbureau relations. Reprinted 
below in Appendix B at page 479. 

'This time element is another reason why we believe that the Department's adminis- 
trative problems should be reappraised at intervals in the light of tendencies whose strength 
and significance cannot be discerned at any one time. We do not know at the time of 
writing, for example, what will be the fate of various relief and welfare policies instituted 
in the thirties when another party comes into power. 

The Line Agencies 265 

career officials. Secretaries, under secretaries, and assistant secretaries 
came and went and were in and of the Department a relatively short 
time. The freedom of the Secretary of Agriculture in allocating duties 
and responsibilities among the line bureaus was perhaps greater than 
that of most other department heads; yet he would be unable to make 
extensive changes in the organization and assignment of activities to 
older line bureaus such as the Plant and Animal Industry and the 
Forest Service. A recalcitrant bureau might, in defiance of a Secretary, 
rally powerful support from the interest groups and legislators in dis- 
tricts where its work was of particular importance. 


Several line agencies deserve special mention because of their size, 
their history, the extent of their operating responsibilities, their general- 
staff and auxiliary services, and the more marked semiautonomous 
character of their activities. These are the Forest Service, the A.A.A., 
the F.S.A., and the Soil Conservation Service; also, the F.C.A. and the 
R.E.A. — in view of their transfer to the Department as late as 1939. 

The Forest Service was the oldest of these agencies; it took the 
leadership in the struggle for the conservation of our forest resources 
many years in advance of public understanding and of Congressional 
support. The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 had been passed almost by 
accident. 8 

After the forest reserves were assigned to it, the Forest Service was 
confronted by the bitter opposition of lumber and other interests, par- 
ticularly in the western states. Its philosophy and action seemed to chal- 
lenge traditional American policies and assumptions, and the desire of 
western communities to profit from the exploitation of resources as the 
older states had done was challenged by the new conservation program. 
Consequently, the development of a militant and corporate spirit in the 
Forest Service was natural; the uniform of the ranger (the only uni- 
formed official in the Department) symbolized this self-consciousness 

8 See John Ise, The United States Forest Policy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 
1920), pp. 1 14-18, for an account of the way in which the Act was adopted by having 
become attached to a conference bill in the closing hours of a Congress. This study by 
Mr. Ise seems to us an excellent example of administrative history, including as it does 
an account of the development of policy in the light of its social setting and of the 
administrative institution in its relation to the evolution of policy. He remarks (p. 370), 
"For the fact that the United States finally got some national forests, with a scientific 
system of administration, credit is due, not to the wisdom of our national legislature, 
but entirely to administrative officials — Schurz, Cleveland, Sparks, Walcott, Fernow, 
Bowers, Pinchot, Roosevelt, and others; and these men had to fight Congress at almost 
every step." 

266 Department of Agriculture 

of the Service. 9 Through its two sets of regions — one for forest opera- 
tions and management, the other for the forest experiment stations — it 
had a far-flung field service antedating even the Extension Service. Its 
activities brought it into constant association with the innumerable 
organizations in the lumber and wood-using industries that were affected 
by its policies and that in turn were interested to influence those poli- 
cies. 10 It was no easy task, therefore, to harness this spirited and powerful 
agency to other line bureaus, such as the Soil Conservation Service, in 
the forwarding of a general departmental land-use program. 11 

The A.A.A. resulted from the success of the farm-relief movement 
of the postwar period. Although it had been placed under the responsi- 
bility of the Secretary of Agriculture through the Administrator ap- 
pointed by him, it remained in some degree an autonomous agency. 
There was, however, some assimilation functionally and structurally 
with the Department as a whole. 12 The F.S.A. had its origins in the 
Resettlement Administration, which was related to the Department 
largely through the person of Under Secretary Tugwell, who was also 
the Administrator of the Resettlement Administration. Some of its 
activities, gathered from various agencies chiefly outside the Depart- 
ment, 13 were less traditionally a part of agricultural administration. The 
Soil Conservation Service, initiated through the efforts of a career civil 
servant of the Department, had existed in its earliest stages in the 
Department of the Interior, from which it was transferred to the De- 

9 A trivial example of this particularism of the Forest Service was the designation of its 
offices in the South Building by wooden plaques on which the emblem of the Service and 
the names and titles of the officials were carved. Of the three "motor -propelled passenger- 
carrying vehicles" which Congress authorized the Department to operate in the District of 
Columbia, one was specifically allocated in the annual appropriation act to the Forest 
Service. Joseph S. Illick, formerly State Forester of Pennsylvania, professor at the New 
York State School of Forestry at Syracuse University, suggests that the corporate sense and 
spirit of dedication may have been accentuated by the use of the designation "Service" 
instead of the more common "Bureau." 

10 Each of the line bureaus had what might be termed its clientele of interest groups re- 
flecting various processes, commodities, regions, and other factors in the respective interests. 
The importance of this aspect of government — an importance that increases with the con- 
tinued development of corporative government — has been presented by E. P. Herring, 
Public Administration and the Public Interest (1936). 

11 The Forest Service had an important part in flood control; its shelterbelt program 
was essentially an aspect of farming because it was designed to protect crops. Its grazing 
activities were, of course, of major importance to the cattle industry. 

^Marketing functions of the A.A.A. were transferred to units under the general super- 
vision of the Director of Marketing and Regulatory Work; it no longer had its own Counsel; 
the Division of Program Planning was absorbed by the B.A.E.; its informational work 
was in 1939 more generally supervised by the Department Office of Information; any 
emphasis given to the soil conservation aspects of subsidy programs naturally brought it 
closer to other agencies in the Department. 

13 See above, pp. 242-50. 

The Line Agencies 267 

partment of Agriculture. All these agencies had in 1939 a large personnel 
with far-flung field activities that brought them into relationships with 
every level of government and with individual farmers. We have noted 
the resulting criticism of some land-grant institutions and other state 
and local officials. 14 There was a delicate and perplexing problem af- 
fecting the Department as a whole. It was in these three agencies (and 
in the F.C.A.) that the effects of the depression upon agriculture and 
rural life, and the resulting political action, made the deepest mark on 
the Department's organization. Furthermore, it was these agencies that 
were apt to be most affected by successive political changes. 15 

It was too early to determine in 1939 just how the F.C.A. and the 
R.E.A. were to be related to the Department generally. A special status 
was apparently envisaged for the F.C.A.; 16 at points, however, its ac- 
tivities were so closely related to those of the F.S.A. that we may assume 
that its special autonomous status would not prevent some integration 
of policy. 17 Apparently the R.E.A. was to be brought more immediately 
within the general departmental controls exercised by the auxiliary 

The public corporation was employed by the Department for ad- 
ministering some of its newer activities — for example, the F.S.C.C. and 
the Crop Insurance Corporation. 18 The opinion of the leading officials 
of the Department about the public corporation as an administrative 
device was revealed by the increasing tendency to assign these corpora- 
tions to the status of the ordinary line bureau and to increase general 
departmental controls over them. 

14 See above, p. 80. 

15 Here again the importance of studying the administration of a function on all levels of 
government is made evident. If soil conservation activities were to be deconcentrated, for 
example, difficult and challenging problems of state and local government would have to 
be tackled. It seemed to be assumed by many who urged this deconcentration that these 
activities would be assigned without question to the experiment stations and extension serv- 
ices. There was, however, a question whether the states would not have to develop a better 
land policy and more carefully thought-out instruments through which that policy might be 

16 See above, p. 257. 

17 After the above was written, the problem of the relation of the F.C.A. to the Depart- 
ment became a subject of controversy, as noted above, pp. 258-61. 

18 John McDiarmid, in Government Corporations and Federal Funds (1937), includes 
a discussion of the F.C.A., the Commodity Credit Corporation, and the F.S.C.C. (pp. 108- 
25, 165-70, and 193-96). A note on p. 208 describes the relation of the Federal Crop 
Insurance Corporation to the General Accounting Office. See also his useful discussion of 
the device of public corporation in chap, ix (pp. 209-32), and his Bibliography (pp. 233- 
36). The Committee on Public Administration of the Social Science Research Council 
held a Conference on Research on Public Corporations on May 7-8, 1938, for which a 
mimeographed outline and brief bibliography were prepared. The Conference resulted in 
an outline of suggested topics for further study: Research in the Use of the Government 
Corporation — An Outline of Suggested Research Topics (1940). 

268 Department of Agriculture 


Two factors combined to make both difficult and urgent the problem 
of coordinating the work of the bureaus within the Department itself, 
with other departments of the national government, and with state 
and local programs, powers, and resources: the tradition of bureau 
autonomy and the increase in the activities of the Department that more 
positively and directly affected agriculture in general and land use in 
particular on the local level. Little consideration has been given, in 
either the national government or state governments, to the similar 
problems of integrating policies on marketing and distribution. 19 The 
study of the Department has become a subject to be approached from 
the viewpoints of state and local levels of government and, indeed, 
from the standpoint of regional problems. 

Relating Line and Other Agencies 

The growth in numbers and in variety of occupations of bureau per- 
sonnel and in the complexity of problems of finance, equipment, and 
procedure made the administrative tasks of the bureau chiefs and of the 
Secretary more time-consuming and burdensome: a change had taken 
place not only in quantity of problems but also in the degree of their 
specialized and technical nature. Hence, the successful administration 
of a line agency required a satisfactory conduct of its relations in the 
field with local, state, and other national agencies, and at Washington 
with other bureaus of the Department and with other departments. 
Frequently bureau policy was only part of a larger policy for which 
responsibility should be shared with other units. This necessity was most 
clearly revealed in the field, where policy was sharpened down to 
precise application on a specific farm or project. Land-use activities, 
as we have seen, illustrated this fact most clearly. National policies 
affecting land use were necessarily only a part of the program required 
for the solution of problems in a locality. Local tax rates and debts, 
local public services and expenditures, local farm practices, local sources 
of employment and income constituted basic factors to which national 
and state land policies must be related. 20 

A similar complexity of factors confronted those who would attack 
problems of rural relief and poverty. The hastily combined activities 

19 The Director of Marketing and Regulatory Work was charged with the coordinating of 
several of the activities of the Department in this field. 

20 This point is discussed by Leon Wolcott, "National Land -Use Programs and the Local 
Government," National Municipal Review, February, 1939. 

The Line Agencies 269 

that were christened the Resettlement Administration were immediately 
related to state and local relief problems, to the adjustment of popula- 
tion to resources and opportunities of employment, and to the structure 
of farm life and rural communities. In many of these matters govern- 
ment had hitherto intervened by indirection, as by the provision of 
land for homesteads or by vocational education. The national govern- 
ment later participated extensively in a huge social insurance and public 
welfare program in cooperation with the states, which in turn cooperated 
with their local governments. Until the reorganization in 1939 much of 
the work of the F.S.A. constituted a rural-relief program; the extent 
and complexity of the problems resulting from the drought in certain 
areas militated against the development of any long-time reconstruction. 
Here again the problem of relating a line agency to state and local 
activities, such as the county welfare agencies, and with other national 
agencies, such as the F.C.A., was an aspect of major policy. 

Integration of Field and Central Policy 

Expansion of the Department's activities not merely increased the 
number of line agencies but also created a need for more unified treat- 
ment in the field and a more careful preparation of programs at the 
center. Herein lay the importance of a regional treatment of policy. 
Unified treatment in the field might develop in the clearance of all pro- 
grams through a single operating agency; some slight evidence of such 
a tendency might be discerned in the assignment to the Soil Conserva- 
tion Service of the water facilities and farm-forestry activities. It might 
develop through the Extension Service and the new county agricultural 
planning committees after a period of experience and the successful in- 
fluencing of programs by their deliberation. It might come by the 
adoption of common regions by all the line agencies, through which 
the Department's programs would be more flexibly adjusted both to 
environmentally homogeneous areas and to the states (and their local 
governments) most nearly coterminous with them. 

Up to 1939 there was no unified departmental policy about regions 
and the role of regional offices; consequently, the resultant confusion 
probably led state and local officials to distrust regional offices as being 
designed to enable the Department to by-pass state and local units. A 
regional unit might be required by the presence of homogeneous en- 
vironmental factors such as were present, for example, in the Northern 
and Southern Plains; cooperation between all levels of government on 
problems peculiar to such regions might be facilitated by a regional 

270 Department of Agriculture 

unit of the Department. Regional coordinators for the work of the 
Department in the Northern and Southern Plains had been appointed. 

A job analysis by the Department of its regional offices and programs 
would help to clarify the questions involved; it would probably indicate 
a movement of problems and of policy away from the autonomous 
functional line agency to the all-inclusive territorial unit. To the solu- 
tion of the problems of such a unit all the relevant substantive line 
agencies must make their peculiar contributions as determined by the 
special characteristics of the area and the participation of its citizens. 21 
Thus, constitutional provisions, governmental organizations, economic 
resources, environmental and population factors, and democratic par- 
ticipation at all levels were the major variables that must be integrated 
in the successful conduct of the activities of the Department. 

Whatever the precise organization of the bureau, the problem of 
relations between the center and the field remained. At the center the 
official was in the atmosphere of the Capitol and was pressed by the 
considerations of general policy, of legislation, and of national and 
international markets. In the field the official had face-to-face relations 
with the citizen and could observe the varied and peculiar characteristics 
of the locality. More subtle differences of atmosphere and interest con- 
tributed to make a sharing of outlook and experience difficult. Officials 
all agreed that during transmission of materials up or down the hier- 
archy, changes, distortions, and shadings of meaning took place. Cor- 
porate attitudes of and toward field and Washington developed. For 
this reason, the assignment of officials from each for periods of service 
with the other was a highly valuable form of in-service training. This 
practice was instituted by M. L. Wilson, who organized field trips of 
Washington officials of different agencies with state officials; thus, both 
became acquainted with the characteristic problems of a region requiring 
joint planning and execution of policies. 

The reflection of changes in American society, including attitudes 
toward the use of government, upon the evolution of the Department's 
activities has thus raised important problems of coordination of line 
agencies at the top as well as of all levels of government. How and where 
are these problems to be studied, and how and where are means of 
solution to be formulated? The occasional conference of bureau chiefs 

21 See National Resources Committee, Regional Factors in National Planning and De- 
velopment (1935), especially chap, viii, "Federal Departmental Procedure." Note also the 
maps and charts of regions and regional centers. James W. Fesler of the Department of 
Political Science of the University of North Carolina has made extensive studies of depart- 
mental regional offices. 

The Line Agencies 271 

is hardly an adequate instrument for this purpose. The traditional 
conceptions of policy as separate from administration are no longer 
adequate for describing relationships at the point where political heads 
and chiefs of line agencies must work together in a Department of 
varied and interrelated activities; relations of local and state leaders 
with members of Congress and with political leaders in the administra- 
tion generally constitute a larger network. Furthermore, we must in- 
clude as supplementary agencies of importance in government the 
array of vocational and other interest groups that are in touch with the 
Department and with Congress. Finally, there are problems common 
to all the line agencies, and the relation of the Secretary to them, of a 
"housekeeping" or "managerial" nature, such as the preparation of 
estimates and control of expenditures, personnel, purchasing, informa- 
tion, and extension; then, too, relations with state agricultural experi- 
ment stations may, at least in part, warrant uniform treatment. Thus, 
departmental services supplementary to the traditional line agencies 
have evolved not only in the formulation of policy but also in the 
implementing of controls and in the facilitation of management. They 
indicate the direction for exploring the significance and function of a 
department as an organism of which the line agencies are a part. 

Part III 

The Resulting Department of 

Chapter 14 

Our account of the evolution of the Department and analysis 
of its activities lead us back to the initial question, "Is there a 
Department of Agriculture?" 1 The difficulties of denning a 
department are discussed in two recent official reports 2 on administra- 
tive reorganization, as well as by Messrs. Meriam and Schmeckebier. 3 
From these studies, as well as from our analysis of the Department's 
activities, it is clear that an executive department is a part of a larger 
organism — the executive power of the United States — constitutionally 
vested in the President. The powers and organization of the executive 
departments are conferred by Congress. What, then, is the function of 
an executive department in the light of its place in this larger organism ? 
The answer to this question will determine the kind of organization 
necessary to perform that function and thus to achieve the purpose of 
a department. 


The differentiating characteristic of an executive department is that 
its head is a member of the President's Cabinet; within the department's 
duties assigned by law, he deals also with the Congress through Con- 
gressional committees. It is interesting and perhaps significant that the 
only references in the Constitution of the United States to departments 
occur in Article II, section 2, paragraph 2, which states that "the Con- 
gress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they 
think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the 
Heads of Departments"; and in paragraph 1 of the same section, that 

1 Meriam and Schmeckebier state {op. cit., p. 160): "A high official of the Department 
of Agriculture once remarked, 'We are not a department: we are a family of bureaus.' " 

2 Preliminary Report of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate 
the Executive Agencies of the Government, Sen. Rep. No. 1272, 75th Cong., 1st sess. 
(1937) and Report of the President's Committee on Administrative Management. Our 
discussion of the problem of function and organization has been greatly assisted by these 
documents and by the study by Messrs. Meriam and Schmeckebier; we record here our 
gratitude for this assistance. Our disagreement with these studies at certain points grows out 
of our more intensive appraisal of a single department; and students of administration 
will appreciate that administrative organization is a shoal upon which fierce currents 
break and wrecks pile up. 

8 Op. cit. 


276 Department of Agriculture 

the President "may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal 
Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject dealing 
with the duties of their respective Offices." These passages stress the dual 
function of the department head: participation in the preparation of 
policy and in the exercise of control. His advice will be more valuable 
if he can speak for a relatively unified and integrated group of activities; 
at best, the activities of a department will affect those of many other 

The Department of Agriculture, as we have seen, has had activities 
related to income, price, employment, the supply of many basic com- 
modities, credit and investment, consumption, education, and transpor- 
tation. Congressional committees to which bills on the Department's 
activities were sent were numerous. 4 The modern economic system and 
the natural environment are so delicately balanced and adjusted that a 
proposal to intervene at any point should be scrutinized most carefully 
to avoid distorting consequences. Furthermore, careful preparation of 
policy in law and in administration is essential if the modern state is 
to avoid disaster. From this viewpoint, the case for an organic functional 
unity in a department is strong. It is the stronger when one considers 
the range and variety of business for which the President is responsible; 
until the late thirties too little thought had been given to the organiza- 
tion of his own office and almost none to the Cabinet's function and 
organization. 5 The American people failed to see that the formulation 
of an integrated program was an essential task of the national executive ; 
the issue was raised by the stress of the World War, but it remained 
unanswered. A comparable need for a unified program developed dur- 
ing the depression; a Senate committee under the chairmanship of 

4 In the House: standing committees on Agriculture, Coinage, Weights and Measures, 
Flood Control, Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Irrigation and Reclamation, Post Office 
and Post Roads, and Public Lands, and the special committee on Conservation of Wildlife 
Resources; in the Senate: standing committees on Agriculture and Forestry, Commerce, 
Interstate Commerce, Irrigation and Reclamation, Post Office and Post Roads, and Public 
Lands and Surveys, and special committees on Conservation of Wildlife Resources and To 
Investigate the Production, Transportation, and Marketing of Wool. The National Forest 
Reservation Commission and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission were joint 
committees concerned with legislation affecting the Department's activities. 

B See Meriam and Schmeckebier, op. cit., pp. 65, 163-65. They remark (p. 65): 
"The national government of the United States has never developed any effective per- 
manent coordinating mechanisms. The Cabinet has never been legally recognized as such 
a mechanism and it has no secretariat to enable it to so function." By an executive order 
of September 11, 1939, the President moved to amend this situation by reorganizing the 
Executive Office of the President and including in it a staff that included the Bureau of 
the Budget, the National Resources Planning Board, the Liaison Office for Personnel 
Management, the Office of Government Reports, and the White House Office, including 
secretaries, administrative assistants, and the Executive Clerk. 

The Function of the Department 277 

Senator Robert M. LaFollette held hearings on his proposal to establish 
a National Economic Council. Another indication of the existence of 
a functional problem that had in 1939 yet to be diagnosed and treated 
adequately was the establishment by President Roosevelt of a National 
Emergency Council and of the Executive Council; the latter, which 
was merged in the former, included Cabinet members and heads of the 
major independent and emergency agencies. 6 

The failure to clarify the functions of policy and of control that center 
in the President, the Cabinet, and the National Emergency Council 
does not absolve 7 a department from clarifying its own function, al- 
though it makes the task more difficult; this responsibility was recog- 
nized by the Department of Agriculture. The same factors — the 
increased use of government as an agency of social control and the 
increasing complexity of our problems — make necessary an improve- 
ment in Congressional policy formulation and in the relations of the 
executive to Congress. There again there was a costly lag in diagnosis 
and institutional adjustment. 

Congress vested in the President and in other general executive 
agencies, such as the United States Civil Service Commission and various 
fiscal authorities, many responsibilities for the conduct of administra- 
tion in such matters as personnel, purchasing, and the budget. The 
head of a department is the official in the hierarchy next to the President 
through whom these controls may be exercised over a particular de- 
partment. This responsibility was the basis for the development of im- 
portant general departmental services through which the Secretary 
of Agriculture could insure the line bureaus' compliance with general 
executive managerial regulations. 8 


For what activities should a single department be responsible in mat- 
ters of policy and control ? We have urged that the duty of the depart- 
ment head to give counsel would be most efficiently performed if the 
activities of his department clustered about some fundamental subject- 
matter core. How far does the Department of Agriculture possess such 

6 See "National Emergency Council" in United States Government Manual. 

7 Attention to this problem may be stimulated by the Assistants to the President, 
authorized in 1939, and the institution of administrative research work in the Bureau of 
the Budget. A clarification of the need for better preparation and unification of executive 
policy and control would seem to follow from the development of this work. There will 
still remain the need for improvement in the relation of the executive to Congress in 

8 See below, pp. 317—77. 

278 Department of Agriculture 

an organic function, and how far does it serve rather as a kind of 
"holding company" 9 for a group of operating agencies that possess 
little, if any, organic functional relationship? 

Students of administration may well be sobered by the statement of 
Messrs. Meriam and Schmeckebier 10 that "as a result of their studies 
the [Brookings Institution's] staff members have been forced to reject 
the theory that there is such a thing as a single controlling principle 
or a small group of controlling principles that dictate sound organiza- 
tion," for these authors have had a unique opportunity over a long 
time to study the problem. They continue with the opinion that "ques- 
tions of sound organization cannot be successfully divorced from 
questions pertaining to the fundamental policy of government." It is 
because we adhere to this view, and believe that through it one can best 
approach the inescapable decisions on organization, that we have ex- 
amined in such detail the Department's activities as expressions of 

New activities are assigned to government more through the zeal 
of groups interested in a single activity than because of a desire to 
achieve a logical grouping and completion of existing functions and 
organizations. Our constitutional distribution of powers between the 
national government and the states gives rise to small national agencies 
created to supply information or to administer grants-in-aid as a service 
to state agencies possessed of constitutionally greater coercive power. 
The Children's Bureau and the United States Public Health Service 
are illustrations. They lacked the size and the resources to warrant 
being made executive departments; the policies with which their work 
was related were of political importance chiefly in the states; yet the 
President was just as responsible by law for control over their opera- 
tions as over such huge departments of national authority as War and 
Navy. The extent and variety of his responsibilities were such that he 
should have assistance both in the formulation of policy and in the 
exercise of controls; hence, the allocation to departments of agencies 
whose individual function was not, in the beginning, organically in- 
tegrated with the functional core of the Department. 11 

9 Messrs. Meriam and Schmeckebier use the term "parent-company" {op. cit., pp. 160 
ff.). They emphasize the need for recognizing different types of departments to meet 
the needs of various — often conflicting — factors. See especially chap, iii, "Structural Re- 
organization," and a discussion of the need for a flexible adjustment of structure within 
a department in the section of the Report of the President's Committee on Administrative 
Management, p. 38, entitled, "Some agencies may be given semi-autonomous status 
within departments." 

10 Op. cit., p. 161. 

u Thus, for such units the Department performs a "holding-company" service. 

The Function of the Department 279 

There will probably always be some agencies on the functional 
periphery of one department that might be assigned with equal logic 
to the functional periphery of another. Over the years, however, unless 
too great a gap separates an agency from the departmental core, various 
devices and procedures will weave the autonomous agency into the 
structure of the organic department, and even a tendency for a func- 
tional integration will develop. The Department of Agriculture was, 
in one sense, less an organic department when its activities were char- 
acterized by research along commodity lines than it was in 1939, when 
its activities were affected by the need for unified treatment of the 
problems of localities, states, and regions in the light of producer and 
consumer needs. The task of departmental organization is, therefore, 
in the phrase of Messrs. Meriam and Schmeckebier, one of "continuous 
reorganization." 12 As the Report of the President's Committee on Ad- 
ministrative Management stated, 13 

The work of reorganization is a continuing task growing out of and 
intimately related to the day-to-day work of the executive agencies. 
It is a task that cannot be done once and for all. It will require con- 
tinuing attention. The assignment of the multitude of present activities 
to appropriate departments is not something which can be carried out 
ruthlessly on a wholesale blue-print basis without doing serious 
damage to the work and without destroying executive responsibility. 
In each instance the reorganization of the work will require careful 
research as to functions, processes, objects, and personnel, and the 
arrangements in each particular case will require not only advance 
consideration but experimental adjustment. In other words, the task of 
reorganization is inherently executive in character and must be en- 
trusted to the Executive as a continuing responsibility. 

We have argued that the Department's activities had, by 1939, de- 
veloped to a point at which they required coordinated application in 
the field — and hence careful preparation of programs at the center — 
and that the Department had recognized this necessity. The administra- 
tion of the public responsibility for production, marketing, and financ- 
ing of farm commodities and their influence on land use and rural 
life was the "natural and proper ... or characteristic action" of the 
Department; this was its "office" and "duty." 14 Some of the activities 
were so closely related to those of bureaus in other departments that 
they were peripheral. The Weather Bureau activities were of vital 
importance to aviation; yet the future of agriculture and land use in 

12 Op. cit., chap. vi. 

"P. 37. 

"These are the phrases used in Webster's Dictionary in denning "Function." 

280 Department of Agriculture 

various regions 15 would depend upon research in weather and a 
knowledge of the types of agriculture that could be practiced within 
the limitations fixed by climate. 

The regulation of commodity exchanges might be combined with 
the regulation of stock exchanges, or it might remain in a Department 
that was responsible for the public aspects of all the other stages in the 
marketing of agricultural commodities. The purchase of agricultural 
commodities for relief distribution might be entrusted to the relief 
agencies, or it might be continued as a part of a policy aimed at the 
adjustment of farm production to markets. The extension of public 
credit to farmers and their cooperatives might be assigned to the Fed- 
eral Loan Agency, or it might be related to other forms of rehabilita- 
tion and adjustment and the development of more unified land-use 
policies. The enforcement of standards and grades of food and other 
necessities might be assigned to the Department of Commerce, the 
Federal Trade Commission, or a "Department of the Consumer," or 
it might be left in the Department of Agriculture with other activities 
related to farm commodities or the supply of information to home- 
demonstration agents. Forestry research and management might be 
joined to the administration of public lands (from which in part it 
originated) or remain as part of a unified land-use program. 16 

Decisions on such matters, if not whimsical, will reflect social policy 
and social change. For example, if a policy of free food for the indigent 
is to be emphasized, the purchase of farm commodities for this pur- 
pose should go to the agencies administering relief; on the other hand, 
if emphasis is to be placed upon policies of production adjustment 
to markets, activity will be left in the department most familiar with 
market conditions. Whichever the decision, safeguards to protect the 
alternative interest should be included in the program. 17 Although 
public roads activities were transferred to the Federal Works Agency, 
it is to be hoped that the effort to plan secondary-road subsidies with 
some relation to land-use and population trends in rural areas will be 

15 For example, the arid regions of the Plains. The Weather Bureau was transferred to 
the Department of Commerce under Reorganization Order No. 4. 

16 For a detailed analysis of the relation of activities to department organization see 
Preliminary Report of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the 
Executive Agencies of the Government. We have found the following chapters particularly 
relevant to our studies: chap, iv, "Government Activities in Relation to Private Finance"; 
chap, vi, "Public Works and Water Activities"; chap, xi, "Public Domain, Agriculture 
and Wildlife and Aquatic Resources"; chap, xii, "Promotion of Commerce and Industry"; 
chap, xiii, "Regulation of Private Business Enterprise"; and chap, xv, "Public Welfare." 

17 The Secretary of Agriculture, for example, was authorized to intervene before the 
Interstate Commerce Commission in transportation questions affecting agricultural in- 
terests; note also the role of the Consumers' Counsel in the A. A. A. 

The Function of the Department 281 

continued through liaison with the Office of Land Use Coordination. 
It is also desirable that the activities of the Bureau of Biological Survey, 
removed from the Department of Agriculture, be related to funda- 
mental ecological factors and not become distorted by recreational 
pressure groups. The administration of grazing on public lands was 
another border activity, related both to the land-use program of the 
Department of Agriculture and the public land responsibilities of the 
Department of the Interior. As the extent of the public lands dwindled, 
the urgency of adopting wise land-use policies on all lands, both public 
and private, increased. The Department of Agriculture, because of 
its relations to the land-grant institutions as well as other activities, 18 
had to assume responsibility for land-use policy in the national govern- 
ment, although it shared it at points with the Departments of War and 
Interior. Of the newly emerging activities, one that presented a most 
interesting problem of relationship was farm labor. Should this be a 
responsibility of the Department of Agriculture or of the Department 
of Labor? In 1939, it was shared by both. Later — let us say in two 
decades — social policies about rural classes, employment oppor- 
tunities, and other related issues will have crystallized sufficiently, per- 
haps, to enable us better to answer such a question. 

On the whole, although we recognize with Messrs. Meriam and 
Schmeckebier 19 that there were "parent-company" aspects to the De- 
partment, we believe that it possessed substantial organic functional 
character through its "natural, proper or characteristic action" and its 
"office" and "duty" in the national government; that this functional 
character came through evolution, however, and not by fiat; and that 
its action required careful integration at many points with the action 
of other departments. 


The relation of function to occupational interests is reflected in the 
popular view that the Department is "the farmer's department." Can 
this conception of function as occupation be reconciled with that of 
function as office and action? 20 Agriculture, according to Webster's 

18 And the need for emphasizing comprehensive treatment reflecting regional ecology, 
based on researches in many sciences. 

w Op. cit., p. 159. 

20 This question is reflected in the following statement contained in Secretary Houston's 
Report for 1913 (p. 54): "When the Department of Agriculture was first organized, and 
for many years thereafter, its work was confined to matters directly affecting agriculture. 
Congress has, however, more recently enacted legislation charging the department with 
the enforcement of numerous regulatory laws, including those relating to meat inspection, 

282 Department of Agriculture 

Dictionary, is "the art or science of cultivating the ground, and raising 
and harvesting crops, often including also feeding, breeding, and 
management of livestock; the production of crops and livestock on a 
farm; farming." Since we are dealing here with an executive depart- 
ment that is an organ of the national government as a whole, we are 
concerned with the public aspect of this art or science. 

It is in the Department that function as a profession or vocation 
meets function as an action and office of the national administration. 
An essential part, therefore, of the Department's task will be the 
translation — perhaps one should say the transmutation — of the view- 
points of the many contending interests in the field of agriculture into 
their legitimate balanced place in policy designed to improve the na- 
tional political economy as a whole. 

The Articulation of Interests 

Perhaps we do not need to repeat that we are dealing here with an 
extremely difficult and complicated question. There are those who 
assume that an adequate account of government is given when the 
term "pressure group" has been uttered. Such people look upon the 
Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor as so many at- 
torneys for their constituent vocational clients. 21 We are not so naive 

animal and plant quarantine, food and drugs, game and migratory birds, seed adultera- 
tion, insecticides, fungicides, etc., many of which only indirectly affect agriculture. Its 
activities, therefore, now concern, directly or indirectly, all the people." 

We would amend the Secretary's final comment by stating that all public activities re- 
lated to agriculture affect "all the people" and not the farmer alone, although we recognize 
that there are degrees of interest and urgency toward the Department's activities by dif- 
ferent groups of citizens. 

21 An interesting comment appeared in the Washington Post of July 5, 1938, under the 
caption, "Agent for the Farmer:" 

"In addition to its far-flung activities intended to regulate the output of American 
farms, the Department of Agriculture is entering upon a new field of service. Secretary 
Wallace has just set up a division of transportation with the duty of securing lower freight 
rates on farm products. 

"Authority for this new undertaking is contained in the agricultural adjustment act of 
1938. . . . Because of the sweeping and confused regulatory provisions of the farm act, 
this 'rider' has been given comparatively little attention. But its purpose is clear. It makes 
the Department of Agriculture the agent or attorney of farmers in demanding lower 
freight rates on their products. A member of the Cabinet is authorized to press the de- 
mands of a special group of citizens before an independent agency of the Government. 

"If farmers were totally unorganized, a good argument might be made for the estab- 
lishment of some agency to represent their interests before the Interstate Commerce Com- 
mission. But Congress recognized the activities of co-operatives and the national farm or- 
ganizations in this field by providing that the Secretary may assist them in pressing their 
complaints. Under these circumstances, the chief reason for bringing the Department of 
Agriculture into cases of this sort appears to be the influence it may have with the ICC. 

"Of course, no one can determine in advance how the new division of transportation 
will operate. But its very existence creates an impression that Congress wishes to apply 

The Function of the Department 283 

as to ignore the important fraction of the truth that this position re- 
flects. We point out, however, that agriculture, commerce, and labor 
are terms each of which covers a multitude of different types of in- 
terests that are rarely in total agreement on any save the most general 
and administratively meaningless abstract slogans. Thus, farmers are 
divided into many contending organizations, commodities, regions, 
economic classes, and other groups. 

A pressure group is only a part of the whole community. Its members 
need the goods and services of other parts, for which their own product 
is given in payment. Such interdependence is the prime characteristic 
of modern industrial society. Hence, the reconciliation of special interests 
is a most urgent social task at all times. Unless, by negotiation, bargain, 
and compromise, some mutually satisfactory adjustment is reached, 
consumption and production are impossible. Mature and wise spokes- 
men of special interests are aware of this fact and include among the 
interests of their groups provision for the effective functioning of the 
society of which they form a constituent part. Civil strife is the de- 
structive alternative. At what point in the evolution of policies in the 
life of the community shall the process take place of transforming 
a specialist point of view and program, through compromise and ad- 
justment, into a more balanced public program? Much of this process 
must take place in the administrative agencies through the selection 
of personnel, their continued in-service training, the content and dis- 
cipline of their professions, researches, and responsibilities, the attri- 
tion of interbureau and interdepartment contact and association, and 
the scrutiny of their work by the over-all administrative staff and auxil- 
iary agencies and by Congress. 22 If there is the proper attention to these 
matters, the viewpoint of the civil service will differ from the surrogacy 
that one expects from the officials of a pressure group. 

Farmer and processor pressures will, however, flow inwardly upon 
the Department and will be registered through lobbies, the Congress, 
party activity, and in other ways. Increased attention in recent years to 
this aspect of politics is reflected in research and vocabulary. Proposals 

pressure to the ICC to obtain specially favorable railroad rates for farmers. That factor 
alone makes this new assignment for Mr. Wallace a most unfortunate precedent." 

22 The conditions surrounding the education, recruitment, and training of the civil 
service are as important as those affecting the legal or medical professions. At the time of 
this study they were receiving greatly increased attention in the United States, although 
there was not yet a sufficiently widespread appreciation of what had been accomplished or 
of the resources long available in our civil service. We may add that the presence of civil 
servants drawn from different occupations in the same agency not only gives the advantage 
of professional standards but prevents the ingrown and inbred attitudes too often characteris- 
tic of a group recruited from a single occupation. 

284 Department of Agriculture 

have been made, for example, to establish a consumers' department 
as a counterresistant to the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, 
and Labor — and, should one add, the Departments of War and of 
Navy? Even with such a department, the wider public aspects of a 
problem need to be considered far down the line of operating depart- 
ments that inevitably are concerned with matters affecting the con- 
sumer and which could hardly be assigned to a consumers' department 
without locating most of the activities of the national government 
there. In fact, the entire national administration may be said to exist 
as the agent of the public as a whole, although, of course, each of its 
constituent parts is of greatest interest to some section of the public. 
No possible regrouping of activities can separate cleanly consumer 
from producer interests; nevertheless, it is possible at certain points in 
the process of policy formulation to clarify consumer needs and in- 
terests. In our opinion it is desirable, from the viewpoint of consumer 
defense, that this activity be included within such a department as 
Agriculture; in consequence, too, there might flow out from the De- 
partment to other interest groups some countercurrents of information 
and suggestions that would moderate their views. We found this 
educational function of the Department recognized, for example, in 
the discussion groups encouraged among farmers by the Program Plan- 
ning Division of the A.A.A., later reallocated to the B.A.E., as well 
as in the work of the community and county committees themselves 
and by the county land-use planning committees. 23 Again, since the 
Department's activities included research on nutrition, adjustment of 
production to markets, and disposal of surplus commodities, there 
existed a better possibility of a more realistic adjustment of interests 
and attitudes that must eventually become integrated if an orderly and 
creative society is to be achieved. 

Perhaps a Consumers Department 

It may be necessary, with the possible further development of gov- 
ernment along corporative-vocational lines, to establish a consumers' 
department, as well as a tribunal of appeal from departmental deci- 
sions. Even then, however, we believe that there will at least be no 
damage done if the search for the general public interest uniting all 
occupations, regions, and other divisions is pressed at the point at which 
they enter the process of government. Some conditioning of the special 
interest by wider knowledge, experience, and responsibility within a 

23 See above, pp. 151-59, also below, pp. 381-86 and 453-56. 

The Function of the Department 285 

department, such as Agriculture, Labor, or Commerce, is also desirable 
in order that policies may be affected before they have become es- 
tablished as departmental policies and before the weight of departmental 
sponsorship and pride is added to their defense on intrinsic merits. 
If the public or consumer interest were to be defended only by a 
separate department, and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, 
Labor, War, and the Navy, for example, were to be encouraged con- 
stitutionally to press for a special-interest policy, the task of reconcilia- 
tion would be postponed to a late stage in policy formulation and would 
be exacerbated by the invitation to departmental jealousies and particu- 
larisms as well. Here again we admit the existence of these factors and 
difficulties, but we seek to emphasize the great need for ameliorating 
them all along the way in the process of government. 24 

Our belief rests in part, we may add, upon observation of the in- 
fluence that the analysis of concrete problems has upon the participants. 
There is a logic inherent in the facts that breaks down the subjective 
views of those entering upon inquiry, whether the problem be one of 
land use in the Plains, or the marketing of a commodity, or the relation 
of farm to other forms of credit. We recognize that selfishness and 
narrowness of outlook will continue; but we are also impressed by 
what is accomplished through the intercession of a good civil service, 
trained to apply scientific procedure to governmental problems and 
encouraged to reconcile the needs of one sector of our political economy 
with those of the whole. The integrity and professional competence 
of a good civil service win the confidence of the interests served; such 
confidence permits the growth of a more public attitude and some 
adjustment of special interests. 25 

Our use of the word "function" points to the fundamental need 
for integrating one department with other departments in the prepara- 
tion of national programs. The policy and program of one department 
are only part of the whole. This was strikingly true of the Department 
of Agriculture. Phrases employed by its officials, such as "parity," "a 
fair share of the national income for agriculture," "the other half of 
the farm problem," emphasized the relativity of its policies to other 

24 We also admit that even with the best conditions within these departments there 
might still be the need of establishing a consumer department or of developing a kind 
of appeals tribunal to review departmental findings. This is a debatable question. 

25 Of course, a major contribution to the solution of this problem has to be made by 
more responsible political leadership in the Congress. If a representative or senator "passed 
the buck" by serving merely as a spokesman for a special interest, the Department would 
be left in a vulnerable position as the sole defense of the public. See the incident described 
by Secretary Houston in Eight Years with Wilson's Cabinet, Vol. II, p. 103-5. 

286 Department of Agriculture 

parts of national policy. It was significant that this relativity was recog- 
nized by the political head of the Department, as many addresses of 
Secretary Henry A. Wallace illustrated. 26 In speaking before the Com- 
munity Forum in Pittsburgh on "The Community of Interest Between 
Labor, Capital and Agriculture," he remarked: 27 

Pittsburgh typifies more dramatically than almost any other city the 
close relationship which exists between farmers, industrial workers 
and capitalists. When the Pittsburgh steel mills are producing at only 
a fourth of their capacity, the price of hogs in the Corn Belt is several 
dollars a hundred lower than would otherwise be the case. This was 
driven into my consciousness in a most effective manner 18 years ago 
when I was working statistically with the nature of the demand for 
hogs. One of the conclusions reached was stated in a book which I 
wrote on "Agricultural Prices" as follows: "Prices of Connellsville coke 
are a better indicator of the demand for hogs than bank clearings." 
Of course, the economic analyses of supply and demand forces which 
I made in 191 9 are very faulty indeed but I have never forgotten that of 
the various statistical measures of demand which I employed at that 
time, Connellsville coke prices were among the best. In other words, 
the prospect of unemployment in the Pittsburgh steel mills was of 
tremendous concern to Corn Belt farmers. 

Again, in a broadcast address before the National Radio Forum 28 
the Secretary related farm production to food needs of the poor: 

There are millions of other families who are supporting themselves, 
yet whose incomes are too small to permit them to buy enough of the 
right kind of food to eat. 

Here, then, is a great potential outlet for our surplus farm production. 
As I mentioned a few moments ago, some persons want to solve the 
farm problem by selling our products cheap to foreigners. Now would 
it not be better as a general thing to give our own people rather than 
foreigners the benefit of such bargain prices? I, for one, think it would. 
And I feel sure most farmers and most city people will agree with me. 

26 They also illustrated the important function of the political chiefs in relating the pro- 
gram of their department to general governmental policies and the social setting in which 
government exists; hence a department head must be a politician rather than a "pressure" 
spokesman or technician. 

27 January 3, 1938. The quotations are from the mimeographed copies released by the 
Secretary's Office. 

28 October 24, 1938. Secretary Wallace returned to this theme in other speeches. See, 
for example, the following addresses: "Common Interests and Conflicting Interests of 
Farmers and Industrial Labor," Fifth International Conference of Labor Legislation, 
Washington, November 15, 1938; "The International Exchange of Goods in Relation to 
Progressive Agricultural Development," The International Conference of Agricultural 
Economists, MacDonald College, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada, August 27, 

The Function of the Department 287 

A demonstration of what may be possible has been made in New 
York City, where under the leadership of Mayor LaGuardia milk 
has been sold from central distributing points at a reduced price to 
low-income groups unable to buy the milk they need at the regular 
price. If such a plan is worth while for milk, could it not be made 
worth while for some other farm products ? 

The phrase, "the other half of the farm problem," suggests the com- 
plexity of relationships involved in agriculture as a function of industry 
and commerce. Somewhere thought must be given in the formulation 
of public policy to the problem of increasing the purchasing power of 
consumers and to other enlarged outlets for farm commodities, such 
as new uses. 29 Consideration must be given to the question of the 
number of farmers and farms that are needed and to the possible 
opportunities for the employment of farm population not needed in 
farming. Attention must be directed to vocational education and 
guidance for rural people and to the conditions that will justify and 
encourage the location of industry in rural areas. 30 Such questions are 
not the responsibility solely of the Department of Agriculture — or of 
the national government: their solution requires a far more alert local 
civic consciousness by means of which wiser use can be made of the 
resources of the national government in facilitating a healthy local 
civic life. As a matter of fact, the Department shared these responsibili- 
ties and had the duty of administering its activities in the light of their 

* • • 

The function of administering on the national level the public 
aspects of agriculture involved the Department in complex relation- 
ships with other parts of the national government. Some of its activities 
reached out onto the international level as well. Our constitutional 
system and the natural variety of conditions in our vast area combined 
to make relationships to regional conditions and to state and local 
governments a primary factor in administration. Wisdom and strength 

29 In this field research was to be developed more intensively in the new regional agri- 
cultural products laboratories comparable to the Forest Products Research Laboratory. 
See Appendix E, at page 508. 

30 On this last point the researches and experiments conducted by the T.V.A. were most 
significant. Probably the most practical approach to this question is through regional, state, 
and local research and planning, supplemented by the use of the resources of national 
departments, especially the National Resources Planning Board, which as a staff agency of 
the President should be able to make available the assistance of all the executive agencies. 
The significance of this aspect of agricultural policy is brought out by Karl Brandt, with 
illustrative detail, in "The Employment Capacity of Agriculture," Social Research, February, 
1935, PP. 1-19. 

288 Department of Agriculture 

were required not only in action but in deciding what should not be 
done, especially in a society influenced by contending pressure groups. 
And what was done had to be undertaken within the standards of 
finance and management generally that were established by law and 
executive order. 

How was the Department organized to perform its function? 31 
We have already described the allocation of its activities to the many 
line agencies constituting the basic units of departmental organization. 
With the growth in the size of the Department, in the dispersal of its 
activities geographically, and in the complexity of its relationships with 
other national agencies, levels of government, and interest groups, the 
organization necessary for performing its function reflected the need 
for instruments in policy formulation and of control to supplement the 
line agencies. These instruments were the general staff and the auxiliary 
services, which we shall next analyze. 

31 The organization units of the Department of Agriculture, grouped by general type of 
service performed, were as follows (as of June i, 1940) : 
The Secretary, Under Secretary, and Assistant Secretary. 

General Staff and Auxiliary Services: The Secretary's Office, The Office of Budget and 
Finance, The Office of C.C.C. Activities, The Extension Service, The Office of Experiment 
Stations, The Foreign Agricultural Service, The Office of Information, The Office of 
Land Use Coordination, The Office of Marketing and Regulatory Work, The Office of 
Personnel, The Office of Research, The Office of the Solicitor, Division of Plant and Oper- 
ations, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Program Board. 
Line Bureaus: Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and Engineering, Bureau of Animal 
Industry, Bureau of Dairy Industry, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, Forest 
Service, Bureau of Home Economics, Bureau of Plant Industry, Agricultural Marketing 
Service, Soil Conservation Service, Agricultural Adjustment Administration, Farm Credit 
Administration, Farm Security Administration, Rural Electrification Administration, 
Commodity Credit Corporation, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, Sugar Division, and 
Surplus Marketing Administration (established by Reorganization Order No. 3, April 3, 
1940. To it were allocated the Division of Markets and Marketing Agreements and the 
Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation). 

Chapter 15 


The fact that the Department of Agriculture has a "function" 
presupposes also an organic entity — an organization. Each agency 
of a group of semiautonomous agencies might have its own 
function, but the group would not constitute a functional whole and 
the responsibility of each to central management would be limited. 
Each unit of an organism may have its own function, but the most 
important aspect of that function will be to contribute to the function of 
the whole. In a functional organism, in an Aristotelian sense, the 
whole is prior to its parts; in a group of autonomous or semiautonomous 
units the parts, to some extent at least, are prior to the whole. Func- 
tional performance requires, therefore, coordination of the parts of an 
organism. To some extent such coordination may be effected through 
the clear definition of function, but certainly in complicated structures 
coordination must be effected through organization. "The major pur- 
pose of organization is coordination." 1 Function is the subject matter 
of an organism; organization is its structure. They are inseparable. 
An organism is composed of parts coordinated for the accomplishment 
of a given objective; organization provides the coordination. 


The organization of any body varies according to its function. The 
more complex the organism's function, the more involved is its struc- 
ture. In human society the simplest organization is that of the individual, 
whose complexity is, of course, baffling. Frequently an individual is 
referred to as being well organized or poorly organized — meaning, 
usually, that he has or has not integrated his various tendencies around 
the special function he seeks to perform or that his ability to coordinate 
his many processes is or is not equal to that function. When the indi- 
vidual is a part of a larger unit comprising one or more other individuals, 
the organization of the larger unit is more complex: the individuals 
remain functionally organic entities, but they are at the same time 
parts of the larger functional organism. 

1 Luther Gulick, "Notes on the Theory of Organization," in Gulick and Urwick, op,. 

at., p. 33. 


290 Department of Agriculture 

Organization is something greater than the sum of its component 
parts. An organization's work processes separated into autonomous 
units would produce results far different either in kind or degree from 
the objective for which the whole was created. Each unit would follow 
a work pattern, the integration of which with other units would be 
wholly voluntary, if indeed possible: the greater the number of units, 
the greater the possibility of their working at cross-purposes. In such 
a separation, of course, each unit would in turn be a complete organiza- 
tion of subordinate parts. The process might be continued until each 
unit comprised a single individual. But even the individual must 
organize himself if his work is to be directed to a specific objective. He 
must coordinate his resources, his time, his ability, his energy, and his 
materials and direct them to a plan of action. Organization, then, is 
the directing of various processes and resources that have been brought 
together so that they may accomplish in unison what would be im- 
possible separately. 


Coordination is the reciprocal of control. The individual cannot 
walk unless muscular coordination is responsive to his will to walk 
or, in other words, unless he can control the action of muscles which 
must contribute to the process of walking. Thus, control signifies co- 
ordination. Coordination, as we have noted, is the object of organiza- 
tion, and since coordination is control, organization also means con- 
trol. 2 Control, therefore, is inherent in organization; it is self -direction. 
"Biologists tell us that the organizing activity of the organism is the 
directing activity, that the organism gets its powers of self-direction 
through being an organism, that is, through the functional relating of 
its parts." 3 

The organization of an enterprise should provide the coordination 
and authority whereby the central purpose or function of the enter- 
prise may properly be achieved. Function, therefore, is the end, organi- 
zation the means of accomplishing that end. 4 In a small project co- 
ordination may be effected simply. If only a few workers are engaged, 
the reality of objective may be so clear to each that authority will flow 

2 "For the object of organization is control, or one might say that organization is control." 
Mary P. Follett, "The Process of Control," in Gulick and Urwick, op. cit., p. 161. 

8 Ibid., p. 166. 

* Organization may, indeed, affect function. An agency of the national government may, 
because of constitutional limitations, be able to accomplish a task given it by the Congress 
only through an organization that intermeshes with state and local governments. Such an 
organization adds to the function of the agency the integration of different levels of 

The General Staff of the Department 291 

from that objective. A larger, more complicated enterprise, on the 
other hand, may require a central structure of authority that will guide 
the activities of different projects, each with its own immediate ob- 
jective, toward the common objective of the whole. There is always 
the danger that individuals on separate projects in a complicated enter- 
prise will lose sight of the central function and become subjective rather 
than objective in performing their tasks. The more complicated the 
enterprise, the more involved is the structural authority. But no matter 
how complex an enterprise, authority is as natural and as inherent 
as it is in the simplest project; complexity merely requires special 
facilities for giving direction which otherwise might not be clear; 
authority must be articulate in an involved enterprise, but it is no more 
coercive than the authority of function in either a simple or complex 


Control of an enterprise is possible through any or all of various 
devices. Policy formulation serves to indicate objectives and general 
direction. Planning guides the movement toward that objective by 
establishing work priorities of both time and place, by indicating the 
organization of men, materials, and budget by which the attack may 
be launched, and, perhaps, by indicating objective measures of per- 
formance. Leadership is control through example or inspiration and 
through the direction of work along the lines and in the manner indi- 
cated by the plans. A system of reporting enables the director to 
appraise the direction and accomplishment of each unit in the light of 
the organic function; reporting to a board of directors, or to the Con- 
gress, or to the public compels performance within and in accord with 
an expressed or implied mandate. Research on the problems dealt with 
will indicate further objectives and test the value of achievements. 
Each implement of control contributes to coordination. 

A small enterprise may be so organized that the chief executive in- 
dividually handles all control processes. So may he, too, in a larger 
enterprise, if its function is simple and clear. When, however, an enter- 
prise is complex, the organization head, because of his limited span 
of attention, must have assistance. Sometimes a private secretary may 
furnish all the aid the chief requires; in other instances more assistants 
will be necessary. 5 These secretaries and other assistants, working 

5 Individual assistants are apt to develop a highly specialized ability along a single line 
and hence make necessary the appointment of others to handle the remaining work. 

292 Department of Agriculture 

intimately with the chief executive, help him in the performance of 
his responsibilities. They constitute the general staff. 6 Their duties 
may be exclusively to direct and to implement the flow of business 
to and from the chief; or they may extend to actual participation in 
executive affairs, though only in the chief's name. Although the chief's 
responsibilities are inherent in his position and cannot, therefore, be 
delegated, he may nevertheless designate members of his general staff 
to act in his name. Thus, the general staff may, in fact, perform any 
services for the chief executive except those which by law or peculiar 
nature require his attention, study, or decision. More specifically, it 
may be said that general-staff activities are related to aspects of ad- 
ministration, such as policy-making, planning, priorities, budget, per- 
sonnel, reporting, and organization, and to all control implements. 

Role of the General Staff 

The part played by the general staff in these aspects of management 
varies among organizations. It depends upon many factors: the size 
of the enterprise, the administrative qualities of the chief, and the 
peculiar abilities of general-staff personnel. Whatever the participation, 
it will involve some definite duties. Collection and recording of perti- 
nent information are fundamental. Analysis of available information 
in the light of organization problems and executive responsibilities, 
followed by recommendations to the chief, is a continuing process. 
Staff members will consult with each other and with the chief, bringing 
their knowledge to bear upon policy and procedures. Finally, as has 
been stated, individuals may act in the chief's name in carrying out 
his orders and regulations. The general staff is an integral part of 
organization, which is its principal concern. All that it does serves to 
maintain central control and to facilitate coordination, which makes 
control possible. 

An organization's general staff is usually not only a desirable aid 
to the chief executive but a necessary one. Even a person of great ability 
and energy and one devoted to his work cannot give the necessary 

Indeed, an assistant's activities may become so specialized and extensive that he will need 
aides of his own and may, in fact, develop an elaborate office. This process is historic. 
It is, for example, coincident with the emergence of government departments from the 
king's household. The designation of department heads as secretaries is a visible remnant 
of the process. 

8 Helpful discussions of the general staff may be found in Henry H. Farquhar, "The 
Modern Business Staff," Journal of the Society for the Advancement of Management, 
May, 1939; E. J. Coil, "Administrative Organization for Policy Planning," Journal of the 
Society for the Advancement of Management, January, 1939; Leonard D. White, op. 
cit., pp. 63-82; Gaus, White, and Dimock, op. cit.; and Gulick and Urwick, op. at. 

The General Staff of the Department 293 

attention to the infinite number and variety of problems that a large 
enterprise entails. The span of attention and the span of control of a 
director are definitely limited. He cannot, for example, personally 
investigate, through field trips and research, the implications of a 
wheat production control program for other commodities and general 
policy. Of the infinite variety of interrelationships that must be con- 
trolled and directed by the chief of a large organization, he can give 
personal attention to but few. He must have assistants who will relieve 
the pressure of the countless details coming to his office. 

Relations of general-staff officials to the chief are, by virtue of their 
unique position, intimate. Their importance to the organization in 
general, and particularly to the chief, depends upon this intimacy. 
In order that this relationship may be assured and that the general staff 
may be as helpful as possible, it is essential that its membership remain 
small. Again, it is the human factor that limits the number of staff 
assistants to whom the chief can give sufficient time and attention. If 
the general staff is too large, most of the chief's effort will necessarily 
be directed to problems arising from general-staff interrelationships; 
such a staff would be more burdensome than helpful. The precise limit 
on the number of staff assistants cannot be stated. It is dictated by 
conditions that vary greatly: it will depend upon the peculiar abilities 
of the chief as well as of the assistants; the nature and size of the 
enterprise; the extent of the integration of the various activities; the 
capacity of the assistants to coordinate their efforts; and many other 
factors. Mr. Graicunas has shown that, at the top, three assistants doing 
separate work are a reasonable maximum. In actual practice, however, 
this number may effectively be increased, but relative to the size of the 
enterprise, it must remain small. 


The organization of the Department of Agriculture must be com- 
mensurate with the Department's function — its "natural, proper or 
characteristic action," its public responsibility for production, market- 
ing, and financing of farm commodities and their influence on land 
use and rural life. The Department's size and complexity need no 
elaboration at this point. It is evident that its organization is also com- 
plex, and to fit it to a function that is far from simple is exceedingly 
difficult. 7 The Department's manifold activities, inaugurated separately 

7 Activities at the periphery of the Department's function do not lessen the need for an 
integrated organization, whose existence would act as a centripetal force and thus pull 
such activities to the center. 

294 Department of Agriculture 

in time, and even in purpose, and not in accordance with a compre- 
hensively planned superior objective, need to be coordinated if they 
are to contribute mutually to the Department's function. Historically 
there was a tendency to group separate activities around central cores. 
This tendency was, of course, furthered by — if it was not the direct 
result of — increased knowledge and experience. Within such groupings 
coordination was possible and expedient. The different groups must in 
turn be coordinated with the Department's function. 

Coordination, as already noted, signifies control. Its accomplish- 
ment in the Department would presuppose an elaborate structure of 
authority. The Secretary, as the Department's chief executive, held 
the reins of authority: "the Department of Agriculture shall be an 
Executive Department under the supervision and control of a Secretary 
of Agriculture." 8 In addition to this direct mandate of authority, the 
exercise of control by the Secretary was necessary so that he might meet 
other requirements of the Congress. For example, "the Secretary of 
Agriculture shall annually make a general report in writing of his acts 
to the President. . . . He shall also make special reports on particular 
subjects whenever required to do so by the President or either House 
of Congress." 9 "The Secretary of Agriculture shall direct and super- 
intend the expenditures of all money appropriated to the Department 
and render accounts thereof"; 10 and, "Hereafter it shall be the duty 
of the head of each Executive Department ... to make at the ex- 
piration of each quarter of the fiscal year a written report to the 
President as to the condition of the public business in his Executive 
Department . . . and whether any branch thereof is in arrears." 11 

Legislation establishing specific activities in the Department usually 
conferred administrative authority on the Secretary; even statutory 
bureaus were expressly declared to be under the general direction 
of the Secretary. 12 In addition, the Secretary might be called upon by 
Congressmen or Congressional committees for information and reports 
on departmental activities. In the light of great action programs af- 
fecting millions of people who might freely complain to Congressmen 

8 25 Stat. L. 659. 

9 45 Stat. L. 993. 

10 25 Stat. L. 659. 

11 30 Stat. L. 316. 

12 See, for example, legislation establishing the Bureau of Dairying: "That there is hereby 
established in the Department of Agriculture a bureau to be known as the 'Bureau of 
Dairying.' That a Chief of the Bureau of Dairying shall be appointed by the Secretary of 
Agriculture, who shall be subject to the general direction of the Secretary of Agriculture." 
43 Stat. L. 243. 

The General Staff of the Department 295 

about inconsistencies in the application of different programs, it was 
imperative that the Secretary exercise control if he was to meet his 

The Secretary, as already noted, owed a duty to the President and 
the Cabinet on matters of policy. In the absence of an adequate policy- 
consulting and control-facilitating body of the national executive, de- 
partment heads must bear the responsibility for harmonizing their 
jurisdictions with the function of the national government. This re- 
sponsibility could best be met if the secretaries themselves represented 
integrated wholes and had the power to make adjustments to de- 
termined national policy. The Secretary was the apex of the Depart- 
ment's structure of authority first, as head of the organization; second, 
by legislative mandate; third, as a member of the President's Cabinet; 
and, fourth, as an agent of the public. Lines of authority flowed from 
the Secretary's Office to bureaus, divisions, sections, projects, and work 
units. It was at the broad base of the structure where the activities af- 
fected farms, local areas, and regions that coordination must be effected. 
But coordination on the ground was dependent upon coordination at 
the top; the latter was the responsibility of the Secretary, but he could 
not meet it without staff assistance. 


The general staff of the Department was a vital part of the organiza- 
tion. It was central to the function of the Department, addressing itself 
to policy formulation and to organization itself in the light of that 
function. At the same time, the general staff was without direct au- 
thority of its own. It acted individually and collectively as the alter 
ego of the Secretary, lending him additional eyes, ears, and arms for 
exercising his responsibilities : 13 

Possibly the simplest way of understanding the difference between 
the line and staff attributes is to state that if the administrative head 
of an organization had sufficient time and sufficient ability to study 
out in detail and be thoroughly familiar with all phases of the work for 
which he is responsible, he would not need a staff. Therefore, a staff 
organization can be looked upon as a group of men who, at the direc- 
tion of the administrative head, study and analyze problems and 

^Edgar W. Smith, "Relation of Organization to Management," Administrative Man- 
agement (a series of lectures delivered in the Graduate School of the Department of 
Agriculture, from October to December, 1937), p. 54. Luther Gulick has stated: "When 
the work of government is subjected to the dichotomy of 'line' and 'staff,' there are 
included in staff all of those persons who devote their time exclusively to the knowing, 
thinking and planning functions, and in the line all of the remainder who are, thus, chiefly 
concerned with the doing functions." Gulick and Urwick, op. cit., p. 3 1 . 

296 Department of Agriculture 

develop principles to the end that the administrative head may have 
before him the necessary facts and opinions upon which to pass judg- 
ment and to take action. A staflf is something to lean upon. That is its 
original meaning, from which we have arrived at the derivative sense 
of the term as we employ it today. 

Although there is a clear distinction between staflf and line in terms 
of duties and authority, nevertheless it should always be clear that 
they represent no separateness of purpose. Both have the same ob- 
jective: to further the Department's function. By necessity most, if not 
all, line matters directed to the Secretary must clear through the general 
staflf. There were insufficient hours in the day to permit the Secretary 
to give adequate attention to all or even to the most important ques- 
tions. Countless orders, memoranda, letters, and other papers required 
his signature; records or hearings and budget recommendations were 
subject to his review; and questions of policy and organization needed 
his attention. In addition, the demands on the Secretary's time by the 
President, the Congress, his party, interest groups, organizations, and 
individuals were extensive. The general staflf acted to reduce these 
pressures on the Secretary: it reviewed practically everything directed 
to the Secretary; it evaluated each matter in the light of all relation- 
ships, of departmental functions and policy; it determined the merits 
of each case and passed it on to the Secretary with a recommendation — 
based upon its analysis — for action. 

The general stair" might decide that some matters did not warrant the 
Secretary's attention. 14 It should be clear, however, that the general 
staflf did not make such determinations with finality. Its logical course 
of action in these instances was to confer with the agency involved, to 
state its judgment, to suggest alternatives, or to advise diflferent pro- 
cedure; it might be necessary to introduce representatives of other 
agencies, even of other departments, to facilitate a solution without the 
Secretary. In the absence of such a solution the general staflf must clear 
the way to the top. Its attention was also required to the flow of 
decisions from the Secretary to the line: it must facilitate that flow and 
follow eventual application to appraise the eflfects in the light of the 
Secretary's determination, departmental function, and policy. 

Thus, the general staflf supported the Secretary in the performance 
of his job. "A staflf is something to lean upon." But a staflf would not 
help one to walk on clouds; it is, indeed, of little value without solid 

"Assistants, for example, cleared all but the most important press releases even when 
they quoted the Secretary. 

The General Staff of the Department 297 

earth to support it. When a human staff is used it must be supported by 
a human foundation, and the mortar of that foundation is consent. 
"Organization must provide . . . through its principles and their ap- 
plication, for the continuous winning of consent in the formulation 
of and movement toward a purpose." 15 The general staff must help 
to win the consent upon which its effectiveness was dependent. In the 
proper performance of its duties the general staff must liberate, not 
obstruct, the line agencies. The avoidance of the bottleneck at the 
Secretary's Office reduced or entirely eliminated restrictive delays. The 
disposal of complaints directed to the top by outsiders relieved the 
line agencies of trying impediments to operations. 16 A more positive 
obligation of the general staff to line agencies was to see that they re- 
ceived proper attention at the top. The staff must facilitate rapid re- 
sponse to inquiries or plans submitted for approval; it should, on its 
own initiative, constantly consider the operating agencies, protect their 
interests, and consult with them on relevant matters of policy and 
organization. The more effectively the staff liberated operations, the 
better it won consent, and the better it served the Secretary and the 

In all its work the general staff must be guided by the Department's 
function. It must be prepared to evaluate every action in terms of the 
Department's responsibility to the President, to the Congress, and to 
the courts. Theoretically, such responsibility is responsibility to the 
public. Actually, responsibility to the people is greater than any legal, 
constitutional, or conventional requirement. Every civil servant in a 
democracy is individually and directly responsible to the people as 
well as to instrumentalities of government. Failure to meet this obliga- 
tion results in institutionalized "checks and balances," but the existence 
of courts, legislators, a chief executive, and an electorate does not re- 
lease the civil servant from his direct responsibility to the people. 
Legal responsibility is a minimum standard ; responsibility to the public 
is limitless. 17 General-staff personnel particularly must reflect a deep- 
seated responsibility to the public. In a real sense they represent the 
final effective opportunity of protecting the public interest before, not 

^Gaus, "A Theory of Organization," in Gaus, White, and Dimock, The Frontiers of 
Public Administration (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1936), p. 69. 

10 Not all complaints received at the top were disposed of there. Some were referred to the 
appropriate line agency for handling. But in many instances, though the line agency might 
be asked for a report or to prepare a reply, someone at the top would sign the outgoing 
letter. A letter from the top tended to choke off dilatory haggling expeditiously, whereas 
a letter from a line agency would be apt to start unending bickering. 

17 Only a small portion of government officials can be affected by popular elections. 

298 Department of Agriculture 

after, damage is done. 18 Moreover, the task of winning consent extends 
beyond departmental personnel to the people of the nation. 

The lot of the general staff is not an easy one. Its job in the De- 
partment was complex, subtle, vital, and huge. Yet, as we have noted, 
its membership must be severely limited if it is to serve at all. This 
presents a dilemma that has but one solution: personal competence. 
What the measure of competence is evades precise definition, but 
some of the qualifications of good staff personnel seem reasonably 


General-staff personnel should be generalists. This does not preclude 
their also being specialists; but for specialists to be good staff men 
they should also be generalists. It is much more important that they 
know enough about everything so that interrelationships will at all 
times be clear. 19 Nature's balance is extremely delicate; economic 
balance is perhaps no less sensitive. A change at any point, even though 
socially progressive by intent, may effect subtle maladjustments im- 
pelling nature to cataclysmic efforts at restoration of a balance. The 
restored balance may or may not be as advantageous to man as the 
original status. The dust storms were signs that nature was forming 
a new balance for the one disturbed, but nature's way might have 
produced a desert. Man's attempt to restore a favorable balance in- 
volved the people on the land, tenure, taxation, the national economy, 
foreign trade, increased production and consumption of livestock, na- 
tional, state, and local efforts, delinquent lands, public-land purchases, 
water, flood control, research, relief, politics, regional pressures, and 

Specialists are necessary in each field; the generalist must see that 
all efforts add up to a positive program and do not cancel each other. 
The specialist may make his greatest contribution through knowing 
everything about his particular subject; the generalist must know 
enough about each segment to guide its integration into the whole. 
Perhaps the strongest statement of the importance of the generalist 
in administration is that by Brooks Adams in 1913: 20 

18 It is desirable also that the public interest be injected at the level of the operating 
agencies where vital plans and policies are born. This need supports the case for general 
staffs under bureau chiefs. 

"In Louis Brownlow's phrase, they should be possessed of catholic curiosity. 

20 The Theory of Social Revolution, chap, vi, pp. 207-8. 

The General Staff of the Department 299 

Administration is the capacity of coordinating many, and often con- 
flicting, social energies in a single organism, so adroitly that they 
shall operate as a unity. This presupposes the power of recognizing a 
series of relations between numerous special social interests, with all of 
which no single man can be intimately acquainted. Probably no very 
highly specialized class can be strong in this intellectual quality 
because of the intellectual isolation incident to specialization; and yet 
administration, or generalization, is not only the faculty upon which 
social stability rests, but is, possibly, the highest faculty of the human 

This quality is, of course, desirable in all administrative officials; in 
general-staff personnel it is vital. 

General-staff personnel should also be self-effacing. They should 
be unambitious in a narrow personal sense but thoroughly ambitious 
to get the job well done, to get problems solved and results achieved. 
They have no authority of their own except the authority of ideas, 
which depends upon their competence and their effectiveness in win- 
ning consent. Final authority must remain in the Secretary, who can no 
more divest himself of authority than he can free himself from re- 
sponsibility. Direct authority in the general staff would therefore repre- 
sent an unjustifiable delegation by the Secretary or an usurpation of the 
Secretary's authority by the staff. Subordinates would resent and 
probably obstruct such action. 21 

21 Raymond Moley, in After Seven Years (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1939), de- 
scribes the unsatisfactory relationship between himself and the President and the depart- 
ments and other agencies. Anticipating a post in the State Department, he says (p. 115): 
"No Secretary of any department was likely to be overjoyed at having an Assistant who 
saw the President more often than he, who knew the President's mind better, and who 
was asked to handle matters of which the Secretary knew nothing. But to house me, 
who would do well enough as a symbol of the new order, with the living embodiment 
of what the New Deal was not would be tempting providence." 

Mr. Moley discusses the difficulty of getting the President to define his duties clearly and 
positively in order that his position might be understood and recognized. Perhaps it 
would have been more appropriate and more advantageous both to himself and to the 
President had the relationship between them, rather than the duties, been defined. Mr. 
Moley states (p. 166) : "In addition to two major assignments in the field of foreign relations, 
I had a roving commission to watch over the formulation of legislation, to unravel the 
snarls that delayed that formulative process, to cull out of the thousand and one schemes 
that came pouring into Washington the few that deserved presidential examination, to 
work up the basic material for F. D. R.'s speeches and messages with the appropriate 
officials, to assume the literary role after these preparatory chores were done, to be on hand 
when there were such special headaches as the Thomas amendment revision to be handled, 
and, with Louis Howe, to 'sit on the lid' when some of Roosevelt's less happy impulses 
threatened to break loose. But, in the execution of these jobs, I was subject to the constant 
risk of disavowal or repudiation by Roosevelt. I was utterly dependent on his mood, 
his whim, his state of mind." If his position had been clearly that of a general-staff 
officer, such confusion of authority should not have arisen. It should have been clear that 
authority was and should be exclusively in the President. Mr. Moley's strength and value 
would have been enhanced tremendously by understanding of, and action according to, 
such a relationship. 

300 Department of Agriculture 

A third important qualification of a good staff man is that he like 
people. This is not an absolute requirement and may be offset by 
excellence at other points; but it is always desirable and valuable, and 
certainly he must not dislike people. With such a trait one finds it 
easier to get along with and win the confidence of others. We do not 
refer to superficialities but to a deep, though discriminating, affection 
toward others. Based upon sincerity and understanding, it smoothes 
the way to winning consent. General-staff personnel must respond 
generally to all sorts and all conditions of men. 

Staff men should be well known or have the ability quickly to be- 
come integral to the Department so that jealousy of an outsider will 
be avoided; they should be capable of applying their knowledge and 
capacities to the Department. Whether they have had departmental 
or even governmental experience, they must have a "sense of govern- 
ment." They should be able to fit themselves into the governmental 
system, and they should understand and appreciate that system. In 
private business a man who carries his records "in his hat" may be 
held in esteem, but in government such a method would inevitably 
bring the individual and his organization into difficulties and em- 

In addition to these special qualifications and others that might be 
added, a good general-staff man should possess something more, a 
certain "plus" that is as real as it is intangible. No single word adequately 
describes this quality. Integrity connotes much of the content, if in- 
tegrity is thought of in a positive sense and as being based on wisdom. 
It is the quality that insures the public interest in governmental action 
and is present only in those who have a real understanding of the 
public interest. It derives, therefore, from real ability, wide knowledge, 
and firsthand experience. It is the absence of this quality that gave rise 
to Lloyd George's attack upon the staff work preceding the battle of 
Passchendaele : 22 

The General Officer who prepared the plans for attack after attack 
across kilometres of untraversible quagmire, and the general who had 
control of what was by a strange irony called "intelligence," and whose 
business it was to sift all the information that came in and to prepare 
the reports upon which plans were based, never themselves got near 
enough to see what it was like. They worked on the basis of optimistic 
reports in the shelter of a remote chateau. ... At Waterloo, Napoleon 
and Wellington could see the whole battlefield with their eyes, and 
with the help of field glasses almost every hump and hollow. But in 

22 War Memoirs (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1933), Vol. IV, pp. 421, 424. 

The General Staff of the Department 301 

modern warfare, the more important the general, the less he feels it 
to be his duty to see for himself what the battlefield is like. 

Thus G.H.Q. never witnessed, not even through a telescope, the 
attacks it ordained, except on carefully prepared charts where the 
advancing battalions were represented by the pencil which marched 
with ease across swamps and marked lines of triumphant progress 
without the loss of a single point. 

Such dangers of faulty staff work can be overcome if the staff man 
will go out "to see for himself what the battlefield is like." He cannot 
otherwise possess the integrity so vital to his effectiveness. In the De- 
partment the battlefront might be a region, a problem area, or a farm; 
furthermore, the Department operated simultaneously on many fronts 
and in collaboration with other agencies. 23 The responsibility of the 
general staff is great; it must be possessed of commensurate ability and 


The identification of the Department's general staff during this 
study was peculiarly difficult. In addition to those who served regularly 
in a general-staff capacity and, hence, were readily discernible, were 
those who participated less directly. Line officials, for example, might, in 
addition to their regular responsibilities, be called upon to render 
special service on policy, planning, organization, or other matters for the 
Secretary. Because the relationship of general-staff personnel to the 
Secretary was one of great intimacy, those who did not hold official 
staff positions were not always distinguishable. It was possible, how- 
ever, to spell out the general structure of the staff. 24 

Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary 

The post of Assistant Secretary of Agriculture was created in 1889 
by the act that raised the Department to the status of an executive de- 

23 Staff work might advantageously be used partly as a training process: operating 
scientific men and general executives could be given staff assignments for limited periods. 
General-staff personnel might be sent into the field to study the impact of the Department's 
work in a region. Representatives from all departments having a common front in a region 
might be sent as a group with instructions to bring back a program — drafted with state 
officials concerned — for the region. It should be a part of their training process to see with 
their own eyes, in company with personnel from other departments with whom they must 
get an emotional as well as an intellectual understanding, what a total united attack on 
a region might be. 

24 Appropriation acts for the Department treated the Office of the Secretary as a separate 
unit. This treatment was more a recognition of a departmental general staff than a 
definite portrayal of its organization. Offices of Budget and Finance, Personnel, and 
Operations, which we classified as auxiliary services, were included in the Secretary's Office, 

302 Department of Agriculture 

partment. 25 It was not until March, 1934, that the position of Under 
Secretary of Agriculture was established. 26 Appointments to both posi- 
tions were made by the President "by and with the advice and consent 
of the Senate." No precise definition of duties for these positions 
existed in 1939 either by statute 27 or usage. More than any other thing, 
it was the personal qualifications of the individual that determined his 
area of activities. It was a reflection of the Department's special rela- 
tions to state institutions that a majority of the assistant secretaries and 
one of the under secretaries had had background affiliations either with 
land-grant colleges, state extension services, or experiment stations. 
For this reason purely partisan considerations played only a minor 
part in the selection of these officials who usually had the duty of 
maintaining friendly relations with state and local interests. 

In 1939 neither the Assistant Secretary nor the Under Secretary nor 
both together had general responsibility for all the work of the De- 
partment. The Assistant Secretary was helpful in keeping in touch 
with the Capitol and in following the course of departmental matters 
through Congress as closely as possible; he had been delegated to 
perform certain regulatory functions of the Secretary. Under Secretary 
Wilson was active in interdepartmental relations; he was, for example, 
a member of the Land Committee of the National Resources Committee 
and of the President's Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate 
Health and Welfare Activities. 28 By executive order of the President, 29 
the Under Secretary was authorized and directed "to perform the duties 
of the Secretary of Agriculture during the absence or sickness of the 
Secretary of Agriculture." The Assistant Secretary, who had previously 
been so designated, was now authorized "to perform the duties of the 
Secretary of Agriculture during the absence or sickness of both the 

though other later established services were treated separately. Within the Department 
"Office of the Secretary" took on an added symbolism comparable, in a sense, to "The 

25 25 Stat. L. 659. 

26 48 Stat. L. 467. 

27 The Assistant Secretary "shall perform such duties as may be required by law or 
prescribed by the Secretary." (25 Stat. L. 659.) The position of Under Secretary was created 
by an appropriation act without any definition of responsibility. Subsequendy Public 
Resolution No. 18, 76th Cong., approved June 5, 1939, declared "that the Under 
Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to exercise the functions and perform the duties of 
the first assistant of the Secretary of Agriculture . . . and shall perform such other duties as 
may be required by law or prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture." 

28 Mr. Wilson was formerly the only member of an executive department to attend the 
conferences with James Roosevelt, established to bring the independent agencies into 
working relations with the White House. 

29 No. 7465, October 6, 1936. 

The General Staff of the Department 303 

Secretary of Agriculture and the Under Secretary of Agriculture." 30 
The subsequent legislative authorization 31 to the Secretary to prescribe 
the duties of the Under Secretary made it possible to delegate to the 
latter regulatory functions of the Secretary to be performed whether 
or not the Secretary were "absent." 

The more general duties of the Assistant Secretary and of the Under 
Secretary were determined by the regions from which they came, their 
background, and their special interests. 32 Mr. Brown, for example, 
came to the Department from Georgia, where he had been director 
of the Extension Service following a long career in extension work. 
It was logical, therefore, that he should be relied upon in matters 
concerning the South and particularly cotton. As Under Secretary, 
Milburn L. Wilson represented the Northern Great Plains, having been 
active in farming and extension work in South Dakota, Iowa, and 
Montana, professor of farm economics at Montana State College, and 
manager of large farms in the region. 33 Between 1924 and 1926 he was 
in charge of the Division of Farm Management and Costs in the 
B.A.E.; later he helped formulate the basis of the original Agricultural 
Adjustment Act; became a commodity administrator under the Act; 
and, in 1933, took charge of the subsistence homesteads program. His 
counsel and aid were sought on matters afTecting the Northern Great 
Plains, particularly wheat. Deeply interested in soil conservation, sub- 
sistence homesteads, and "democracy in agricultural administration," 
he was active in these fields. His interests were, in fact, Department- 
wide; his success in stimulating original thinking and constructive 
effort at many points demonstrated the value of bringing to the De- 
partment political members who were qualified to inject freshness and 
imagination in matters that tended to become too routinized. 34 

30 "It has been the informal view of this office that the Secretary may be viewed as 
'absent' when absent from the building so as not to be available for the discharge of im- 
mediate duties. This view would seem to carry out the thought of the court in Ex parte 
Tsui Shee, supra, in that the Secretary should be viewed as absent if not at his desk and 
not performing the duties of his office, even though he may be in Washington." U. S. 
Department of Agriculture, Office of the Solicitor, Opinion 1023, December 23, 1938 
(mimeo.), p. 3156. 

31 See above, p. 302, n. 27. 

32 Although the Under Secretary and the Assistant Secretary devoted most of their 
time, particularly speaking engagements, to their regions, they made a point of appearing 
in different sections of the country in order to become familiar with and to circulate 
the various regional viewpoints. 

83 See Russell Lord, Men of Earth (1932), pp. 280-89, for an excellent brief account 
of M. L. Wilson's connection with the Fairway Farms. 

**M. L. Wilson, for example, took an active interest in the Department's Graduate 
School. He inspired and organized lecture series on such subjects as democracy, adminis- 
tration, and the history and philosophy of science, which were widely attended. But more, 

304 Department of Agriculture 

Both the Assistant Secretary and the Under. Secretary sought to main- 
tain and to strengthen relations between the Department and state land- 
grant colleges, extension services, and experiment stations. This task 
mounted in importance with the emergence of new programs and direct 
lines of administration. Both diverted to themselves many would-be 
callers on the Secretary. 

Aside from special delegations of authority, there was no clear classi- 
fication of the duties of the Assistant Secretary or of the Under Secretary; 
furthermore, there was no definite functional line of demarcation 
between their spheres of activities. They were the political party mem- 
bers of the general staff, appointed by the President subject to con- 
firmation by the Senate; they reflected regional interests and special 
backgrounds and served the Department according to their individual 

The Secretariat 

Closest to the center of the general staff were the four Assistants 
to the Secretary; they were his personal aides. To reach the desk of the 
Secretary one must pass through two outer offices, the first containing 
the desks of three of the Assistants, the other containing the desk of 
the fourth. The Assistants' relationship to the Secretary himself was 
as close as this physical proximity. For all practical purposes every 
visitor to the Secretary must pass under the scrutiny of his Assistants, 
and every paper or other matter directed to the Secretary must first 
clear their desks. The Assistants gave final clearance to all matters that 
reached the Secretary and first impetus to those that left his desk. 

The intimacy between the Assistants and the Secretary at the time 
of this study was further exemplified by the fact that two of the four 
had been personal friends of Secretary Wallace prior to 1933. Paul H. 
Appleby, whose desk was closest to the Secretary, had been an editorial 
writer on the Des Moines Register and Tribune, where he became 
personally acquainted with Henry A. Wallace. He came to the De- 
partment in 1933 at the request of the Secretary for a temporary period 
but remained. James D. LeCron, who was also affiliated with the Des 

he sought, through the device of seminars in his office following each lecture and attended 
by the lecturer as well as a representative group of departmental personnel, to relate each 
series to departmental problems. At the close of the series given during the spring of 1939 
on the History and Philosophy of Science and the Place of Science in Democracy, Mr. 
Wilson appointed a committee "to see what place the history of science should have in 
connection with the national programs of the Department of Agriculture and with the 
future courses of the Department's Graduate School." He also initiated a series of field 
trips as a means of bringing representative departmental personnel into intimate contact 
with regional land problems and with representatives of state agencies. 

The General Staff of the Department 305 

Moines Register and Tribune, joined the staff in the fall of 1933. He was 
an old friend both of Mr. Appleby and of the Secretary and had, in 
fact, gone for a walk with Mr. Wallace on the day the invitation to 
join the Cabinet arrived. Mr. LeCron was recruited, at Mr. Appleby's 
suggestion, to satisfy the need for additional assistance in the Secretary's 
Office as work continued to pile up. Earlier in the year Mr. Appleby 
had brought in C. B. Baldwin. While Messrs. Appleby and LeCron 
served continuously under Secretary Wallace, the third post was held 
successively by C. B. Baldwin, Milo Perkins, R. M. Evans, and James L. 
McCamy. Milo Perkins succeeded Mr. Baldwin when the latter went 
to the Resettlement Administration as Assistant Administrator. Fol- 
lowing the transfer of the Resettlement Administration to the De- 
partment and its incorporation into the newly organized F.S.A., Mr. 
Perkins joined Mr. Baldwin as an Assistant Administrator. 35 R. M. 
Evans then served as Assistant to the Secretary until, in the depart- 
mental reorganization of 1938, he became Administrator of the A.A.A. 
James L. McCamy, professor of government and chairman of social 
studies at Bennington College, was named Assistant to the Secretary on 
February 1, 1939. 36 Leon O. Wolcott was appointed in September, 1939, 
and raised the number of Assistants to four. 

There was little differentiation or specialization of the duties of each 
Assistant: effort was made to have all four share in all business. Perti- 
nent telephone conversations of each, for example, were summarized 
in typed notes by the office secretaries and circulated to the others. 
Each Assistant tried to keep the others advised of important items that 
came to his attention and to confer on action when there was time. 
The close physical proximity of the Assistants' desks enhanced this 
collegial arrangement. 37 Each Assistant operated generally on the whole 
departmental front. Any of them might be called upon in any matter. 

35 In 1939 Mr. Perkins was Associate Administrator of the A. A. A. in charge of mar- 
keting agreement programs and, simultaneously, President of the F.S.C.C. 

36 It should be noted that Mr. McCamy and Mr. Wolcott had had newspaper experience. 
It is interesting and perhaps significant that many holding administrative posts in the 
Department had had such experience, Roy F. Hendrickson, Director of Personnel, and 
Milton Eisenhower being outstanding examples. 

37 It might even be that such mutual interest and action would be impossible were the 
Assistants not so close together. The usefulness of other general -staff people was restricted 
because of the physical separateness of their offices, and the apparent need for more aid 
close to the Secretary remained unsatisfied pardy because of limited space close to the 
Secretary. Although not in the same office, other members of the general staff were 
located near by: the Under Secretary, the Assistant Secretary, the Land Use Coordinator, 
and most of the special aides were on the second or third floors of the Administration 
Building where the Secretary's office was located. The Directors of Finance, Personnel, 
Information, and Plant and Operations also had offices in the Administration Building. 

306 Department of Agriculture 

Each considered all propositions in the light of the complete depart- 
mental policy. No interference in the flow of business resulted from 
the absence of one or more. It is questionable that these advantages 
would have existed if each Assistant operated within sharply defined 

Despite efforts toward complete collegiality, there developed some 
specialization, 38 if not differentiation, in the duties of the Assistants. 39 
The personality and interests of each made for some specialization of 
duties, which was furthered by the continued increase in business and 
work pressure. 40 Milo Perkins, for example, because of his highly suc- 
cessful experience in a business that involved large speculative trans- 
actions, was assigned to problems connected with the A.A.A. After Mr. 
Perkins' transfer to the F.S.A. Mr. Evans was brought in to give atten- 
tion to the A.A.A. Mr. Appleby assumed responsibility for the complex 
and difficult problems of administrative organization; he worked upon 
Congressional matters and with other departments and agencies; and 
he was closest to the Secretary on personal and political affairs. 

Mr. LeCron, because of his interests, took particular charge of mat- 
ters affecting forestry and conservation; he was responsible for the 
arrangement of the Secretary's speaking engagements and for public 
statements issued by the Secretary; he also concerned himself with dis- 
ciplinary problems in the Department. Thus, although some specializa- 
tion of duties existed, it did not indicate a delimitation of the Assistants' 
services. The Assistants were, in a sense, extensions of the Secretary's 
personality, and the scope of their activities was coterminous with that 
of the Secretary himself. They addressed themselves, therefore, to the 
Department's function with emphasis upon generalization rather than 
upon specialization in the handling of myriad details. 

Of all the general-staff members the Assistants were closest to the 
Secretary and exercised the broadest duties. Perhaps it would be better 
to say that they constituted the Secretary's general staff, or the Secre- 
tariat, while they, plus the other members, comprised the Department's 

^It should be noted that two aides were added in 1939 with relatively special duties, 
although reporting to Mr. Appleby rather than to the Secretary and located, because of 
limited space, outside the main offices. 

39 Immediately after the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 the Secretary named an 
advisory council composed of representatives of farm, labor, manufacturing, and retail 
organizations that would consult with the Secretary on problems affecting agriculture 
growing out of the war. One Assistant devoted his time largely to this council and to war 

*°The mutual participation in all work was particularly jeopardized by the swell of 
business during sessions of Congress. Mr. Haldane's remark was pertinent that departments 
were underofficered at the staff level. 

The General Staff of the Department 307 

general staff. They would have to be considered, however, as more than 
a part: they were, collectively, chief of staff. Thus, they performed a 
dual role. Further refinements would even reveal Paul Appleby at the 
apex of the inner group and, hence, of the whole. Serving this dual 
staff role, Mr. Appleby individually (or the four Assistants collectively) 
was not less than, but, we believe, different from, the general manager 
of the Department. 41 There is no universal characteristic of the role of 
general manager, but the very use of the term evidences that this posi- 
tion is different from that of the chief executive; at the same time, it is 
clear that it is one of authority. The Secretariat was a concomitant of 
the chief executive of the Department, with no direct authority of its 

In addition to the matters flowing to the Secretary from within the 
Department, the Assistants addressed themselves to all external rela- 
tions: the Congress, the President, other national agencies, interest 
groups, the party, and the general public. Daily mail was voluminous 
and demanded careful attention not only to satisfy the writer but also 
because it might contain valuable suggestions or criticisms of policy or 
administration that warranted exploration. The answer to a single letter 
might require the participation of several agencies; the Secretariat must 
follow through to see that the answer was prepared expeditiously and 
according to departmental policy if any were involved. Visitors must be 
given consideration and, whenever desirable, diverted from the Secre- 
tary. 42 Consultations on policy were fairly continuous and frequently 
involved conferences with other staff personnel, with operating officials, 
or with people outside the Department. Organization problems were 
frequent, complex and time-consuming, but vitally important. In short, 
the Assistants acted as a predigestive organ for all matters of concern 
to the Secretary. 

Obviously, four Assistants could not perform all the tasks that war- 
ranted their attention. Many decisions must be made by them alone in 
the name of the Secretary and frequently at the risk (a risk reduced 
only by their personal competence and integrity) of inadequate informa- 
tion or study. The two aides under Mr. Appleby absorbed some of the 
details but there remained much that must be assigned to others. An 
additional responsibility of this group, therefore, was to apportion mat- 

41 Mr. W. A. Jump, Director of Finance, came closest to serving the role of general 
manager by virtue of his position and personal competence. Roy F. Hendrickson, Director 
of Personnel, and Milton Eisenhower, Director of Information, Land Use Coordinator, 
and Chairman of the Program Planning Board, might be added to form a collective 
managership. See Macmahon and Millett, op. cit., pp. 31-34, for a discussion of the As- 
sistants as constituting a collective managership; also passim, for important material on 
general-staff and auxiliary services. 

^Appointments consumed four or five hours of the Secretary's day in Washington. 

308 Department of Agriculture 

ters to other members of the general staff according to their positions 
and personal equipment. 

Special Advisory Aides 

Another group that served with the general staff consisted of the 
special advisory aides: the Special Assistant; the Economic Adviser to 
the Secretary; the Scientific Aide to the Secretary; and the Special Ad- 
viser to the Secretary. The Special Assistant had been in charge of the 
political appointments in the Department, a position of great im- 
portance with new agencies, such as the A.A.A. and the F.S.A., exempt 
from civil service. The job was to satisfy Congressional demands for 
patronage and simultaneously the Department's requirements of com- 
petence. Relieving the Secretary of this important task constituted a 
genuine and important staff service. 43 The Economic Adviser and the 
Scientific Aide 44 served in their fields, though the Scientific Aide was 
assigned also to nonscientific problems. The Special Adviser, Mr. Stock- 
berger, former Director of Personnel and pioneer in that work, became 
a consultant on personnel problems. These by no means comprised a 
collegial group, nor was there uniformity in the extent or continuity of 
their staff activities, which in fact depended largely upon the number 
of problems arising to which each was especially adapted. 45 All, how- 
ever, held posts that were general staff in nature — posts created and 
filled by the Secretary as the need and availability of particular indi- 
viduals arose. 


We turn now to personnel who were not full-time staff members and 
who did not hold positions definable as exclusively staff in nature but 
who performed, nevertheless, important staff functions. Directors of 
the Offices of Budget and Finance, Research, Extension, Personnel, and 
Information, and the Solicitor were heads not only of auxiliary services 

43 The handling of patronage was guided by the following principle: All positions of 
administrative responsibility and of a professional or technical nature were filled by the 
bureau chief; other positions were filled from various lists: positions in Washington or of 
general national significance, from lists supplied by senators or members of the Democratic 
National Committee; positions of state-wide importance, from lists supplied by a senator 
or the chairman of the State Democratic Committee; and local positions, from lists 
supplied by the Congressman from the district. It is significant that political nominees 
were given examinations by the recruiting agencies before appointments were made. 

44 For a discussion of advisory aides see Macmahon and Millett, op. cit. 

^Members of this group appeared frequently on special committees. 

The General Staff of the Department 309 

but also, as individuals, were advisers and aides to the Secretary. 46 
They were advisers and aides by virtue of the positions they held — 
positions with important controls over departmental activities — as well 
as of their personal qualities. 47 It may be said that their positions were 
so important to the management, organization, and even policy of the 
Department that unless they had the personal qualities appropriate to 
staff service under the Secretary, the proper performance of the Secre- 
tary's job would demand changes in personnel. At the same time, a 
large measure of their value to the Secretary rested upon their experi- 
ence in, and knowledge of, the Department. Thus, the qualities of 
integrity and wisdom were of utmost importance in those who held 
these vital posts. In a sense they served a dual role, but they could not 
properly serve either exclusively. 

The Director of Marketing and Regulatory Work, the Director of 
Foreign Agricultural Relations, and the Land Use Coordinator were 
also members of the general staff. All were relatively new posts in the 
Department and perhaps had not reached a stability characteristic of 
other offices, but by intent and performance they should be included 
in the general staff of 1939. The Land Use Coordinator, originally 
designated as Coordinator of Land Use Planning, was named by the 
Secretary on July 12, 1937, 48 to approach consciously the problem of 
integrating the application of programs directly affecting land utiliza- 
tion. The Office of Land Use Coordination, to the extent that it re- 
viewed, initiated, and established standards for all survey work related 
to land use, performed an auxiliary service, but primarily its duties were 
general staff. 49 The Office of Marketing and Regulatory Work was 
created in the reorganization of the Department in October, 1938; it 
reflected not only a long-felt need for central direction of the regulatory 
activities of the Department 50 but also an acknowledgment of the need 
for integration and coordination of the Department's marketing and 
distribution programs. The Director of Marketing and Regulatory 

^Selected individuals, other than the Directors, might be given special assignments 
under the Secretary, such as the organization of the Yearbook or work on the Secretary's 
Annual Report. See p. 317, for a definition of "auxiliary services." 

47 The Director of Research actually held two posts: he was also Chief of the Office 
of Experiment Stations. 

^Milton Eisenhower, who held this position from its creation, was and continued to be, 
Director of Information. For a discussion of the origin of the post see U. S. Congress. 
House. Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations. Hearings on the Agricul- 
tural Department Appropriation Bill for 1939, pp. 3-5, 87. 

49 The functions of the Office of Land Use Coordination were redefined in Secretary's 
Memorandum No. 814, reproduced in Appendix B, at page 475. 

60 It will be recalled that a Director of Regulatory Work was appointed in the twenties, 
but the office was later abolished at the suggestion of the Director. 

310 Department of Agriculture 

Work was responsible for coordinating the activities of the F.S.C.C, 
the Commodity Exchange Administration, the Sugar Administration, 
the Marketing and Marketing Agreements Division of the A.A.A., and 
the Agricultural Marketing Service. 

The status of the Office of Marketing and Regulatory Work was 
anomalous: it was not entirely general staff or entirely line. A. G. 
Black, 51 Director, served the Secretary intimately on various matters 
that might or might not be related to the defined duties of his Office. 
At the same time, the Office had a measure of authority over designated 
agencies, though the precise nature of that authority was not clearly 
determined. The need for substantial staff work in the cluster of 
marketing and distribution activities was clear, but whether this Office 
would serve that or some other purpose remained for the future: it 
might develop increasingly important staff functions; it might become 
an auxiliary service applying standards of procedure; or, indeed, it 
might acquire specific line authority. The Office of Foreign Agricul- 
tural Relations was exclusively general staff. The Office was established 
on July i, 1939, simultaneously with the transfer of the Foreign Agri- 
cultural Service to the Department of State pursuant to the President's 
Reorganization Plan No. 2. The Office of Foreign Agricultural Rela- 
tions was the foreign office for Agriculture. 

Another group of part-time members of the general staff was drawn 
from the operating agencies. They too served a dual role : in their regular 
posts they had line authority and responsibility; as general-staff con- 
sultants they had no official position. The extent of their participation 
in general-staff matters varied: some might be called upon regularly 
for general consultation; others might serve only in special instances 
and on particular problems. Most important, the Secretary could draw 
upon outstanding people throughout the Department for assistance and 
counsel and had the legal authority to detail persons to his office as the 
need arose. 52 Louis H. Bean, for example, Economic Adviser to the 
A.A.A. and later attached to the B.A.E., was as close to the general staff 
on economic matters as the Economic Adviser to the Secretary. 53 Bureau 
chiefs and other line officials with particular knowledge and ability, 
who were generalists in addition to being specialists and who had per- 
sonal relations with the Secretary, were drafted to act as general-staff 

51 In December, 1939, he was appointed Acting Governor of the F.C.A. in the move to 
tie the F.C.A. to the Department for policy. 
E2 34 Stat. L. 1280. 
B3 They were in the same office. 

The General Staff of the Department 311 

Individuals might be, and were, asked for help in matters ranging 
from simple factual questions to the broadest policy determination. 
Those who prepared the letters, the legal dockets, the special and general 
memoranda, the reports and findings were all truly staff aides. 54 Some 
friends outside the Department were called by the Secretary at times 
for advice and aid comparable to that given by the general staff. 

In addition to the informal participation . of selected individuals in 
staff matters, there was the widely used special technique of depart- 
mental committees. These committees — some temporary, some 
permanent — were formally constituted supplementary general-staff 
implements. Ranging in scope of function from advising on plant 
nomenclature to studying, appraising, and recommending on agricul- 
tural labor, rural housing, the Graduate School, and departmental co- 
ordination, committees served to collect information on special or 
general problems. 50 Committees were relatively flexible; they might 
be created or terminated, and memberships might be increased or 
changed, at the will of the Secretary. They permitted the use of a great 
number of personnel who, reporting through their chairmen, usually 
in writing, brought wide experience and extensive study into relatively 
brief compass for the attention of the Secretary and his immediate 
assistants. Without the responsibility of direct supervision the general 
staff was thereby greatly augmented. At the same time, however, there 
was always the danger that committee work would cost more in time 
and distraction from regular activities than the benefits would justify. 

Bureau of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Program Board 

Two important components of the general staff remain to be con- 
sidered: the B.A.E. and the Agricultural Program Board. The latter 
was created, the former reconstituted, in the departmental reorganiza- 
tion of October, 1938. The B.A.E., stripped of the operating functions 
assigned to it over a period of years, became the central planning agency 
of the Department, "subject to the general supervision and direction of 
the Secretary of Agriculture." 56 B.A.E. planning was Department-wide 

54 Another example was E. C. Auchter, Chief of the Bureau of Plant Industry, a scientist 
and a specialist but also a generalist who in his paper, "The Interrelation of Soils and 
Plant, Animal and Human Nutrition," Science, May 12, 1939, pp. 421-27, indicates the 
broader forces that transcend a number of sciences and interrelated subject matters. 

50 See Appendix C, at page 479, below for data on representative committees. Depart- 
mental committees serving general-staff functions should be distinguished from the great 
number of interbureau committees concerned with joint operating projects. 

^See Secretary's Memorandum No. 782, reproduced below in Appendix B, at page 465. 
See also the hearings on the Agricultural Appropriation Bill for 1940, pp. 860-79. 

312 Department of Agriculture 

and national, calculated to guide the integration of all related activities, 
in contrast to special operations planning, which remained with the 
line agency. 57 To facilitate and to democratize its planning efforts, an 
interesting and significant structure of state, county, and local agri- 
cultural planning units was organized with memberships embracing 
national, state, and local officials as well as farmers. Thus, the B.A.E. 
was at the convergence of vertical lines running to the land, but lines 
that were crossed at different areal levels — regional, state, county, local — 
by horizontal lines of coordination. 58 

The plans and programs developed by the B.A.E. were subject to 
review and appraisal by the Agricultural Program Board. 59 With its 
membership including the Chief of the B.A.E., directors of several 
auxiliary services, and chiefs of selected bureaus, the Board examined 
all plans "especially in the light of administrative feasibility and prac- 
ticability" before they were presented to the Secretary for his approval. 60 
Through this procedure representatives of different bureaus had a voice 
in plans or programs that affected them directly or indirectly, and dif- 
ferences might be harmonized before action was initiated. This was a 
convenient device, but it had the inherent danger of rendering programs 
innocuous or confused through compromises. 

The Board might serve another function. The Secretary at times 
assigned to it difficult internal matters to which he could not give the 
time and attention requested and about which a decision was impossible 
without driving a wedge between different agencies or arousing the 
suspicion or antagonism of certain groups. The zealous head of an 
activity might propose alterations of policy or organization that had the 
potential support of outside interest groups but that also involved drastic 
deviations from accepted policy and shifts of emphasis by one or more 
operating agencies. The Secretary, wishing to avoid, or at least post- 
pone, a decision and unable to give his time to the flow of arguments 
and petitions, might turn the whole matter over to the Program Board. 
Thus, the Board might become a buffer between the Secretary and the 
line in special instances. This buffer activity was a legitimate function 
so long as the Secretary himself determined when the Board would be 
so used; the Board should not act as a buffer on its own initiative. 

57 The demarcation between general and operations planning, when not clearly defined, 
left a zone in which the B.A.E. and the operating agency might overlap or compete. 

58 See above, pp. i49~59- 

59 See Secretary's Memorandum No. 786, reproduced below in Appendix B, at page 473. 

60 The Agricultural Program Board assumed some of the functions previously exercised 
by the Coordination Committee and some of the functions of the Liaison Committee of 
the Office of Land Use Coordination. 

The General Staff of the Department 313 


It is clear that the general staff's structure was elaborate and extensive. 
The Under Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Secretariat, auxiliary and line 
members, special advisers, committees, boards, and a whole bureau 
added up to great proportions. Still others might be included. Under 
Secretary Wilson, for example, had several persons in the Department 
who worked and consulted with him on various matters and who, 
through him, made valuable contributions to the top. Furthermore, 
persons in the Department who were most severe in appraising its ad- 
ministration said that there was need for even more extensive work of a 
general-staff nature. 

The development of the departmental general staff in such propor- 
tions was the logical and necessary result of the scope, multiplicity, and 
interrelationships of the responsibilities of the Department and the com- 
plex national and world system within which it must operate. We have 
noted that the first real efforts toward a departmental general staff were 
made under Secretary Houston, 61 an economist, who saw the impact 
of economics upon agriculture and recognized the need for studying 
these forces in the light of agricultural policy and programs. The new 
programs of the New Deal and the increased awareness, because of 
previous research, of interrelationships between programs within and 
outside the Department and more dramatic evidence of technological 
and financial pressures brought increased attention to the need for an 
extended development of a general staff. Specialization and division of 
labor increased as new programs were undertaken; only thus could the 
job be done at all. Yet the more definitive the division of labor, the more 
important the need for central controls that would insure efficiency and 
integration. But the greater the need for integration, the greater the 
difficulty of effecting it, particularly in an organization as complex and 
intimately concerned with the fabric of our national life as the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture. 62 The general staff, then, must reflect the com- 
plexity of the Department's function; though its structure might alter, 
its task would remain as important as the job to be done, and its size 
would have to be commensurate therewith. 

61 See above, p. 275. 

82 It is not size alone or the division of labor that presents the ultimate difficulties. 
Important as both are in contributing to the problem, it is the relative complexity of the 
task of relating various programs into a common front that adds most to the difficulty. 
The Post Office Department is one of the largest in terms of personnel, and its efficiency is 
characterized by a division of labor, yet it remains, because of singleness of purpqse, 
relatively simple in administration. 

314 Department of Agriculture 

The Efficiency of an Elaborate General Staff 

One may ask whether a general staff as elaborate as that of the De- 
partment is, or can be, efficient. Ultimately the findings, recommenda- 
tions, and plans of general-staff units must clear through the Secretariat 
to the Secretary for action or determination. Was it possible for the 
Secretary, with his immediate assistants, to give attention to these 
multiple staff officials without becoming involved in problems of 
general-staff integration — an involvement that would cut into their 
already limited time and energy? This question is one that the gen- 
eral staff itself should constantly raise and determine. 

Only the general staff was fully aware of the impact upon it of the 
problems, decisions, and general stream of work that arose in the com- 
plexity of departmental activities and flowed toward the center. If the 
impact at the center was so great that effective direction was impaired, 
analysis must then be directed to the roots of the Department's complex- 
ity. We have noted earlier that the size of the general staff was limited 
to the span of attention at the center; at the same time the job and size 
of the staff reflected the complexity of the Department. Relief at the 
center, therefore, might be possible only by the separation from the 
Department of activities that added confusion but were not so integrally 
related to primary functions that they could not be successfully ad- 
ministered elsewhere. Similarly, the general staff should test suggestions 
for additional activities by its own capacity to assume the necessarily 
increased responsibilities. Perhaps the question of the optimum size of an 
organization can be answered in terms of the organization's pressure 
on its general staff. 

Simplification and reduction in size were not the only possibilities for 
relieving pressure at the center. In reality, the difficulties involved in 
effecting reallocations of governmental programs made these remedies 
unreliable. Perhaps the greatest opportunity for implementing the work 
of the departmental general staff lay in the strengthening of staff serv- 
ices among the agencies with which the departmental staff was con- 
cerned, including operating agencies within the Department, other 
departments, the President's office, and the Congress. Competent staff 
work at these points facilitated relationships, encouraged effective co- 
ordination, and reduced the burden on the departmental staff. Staff 
work was already being done in many agencies but with wide variations 
in the fulfillment of the total job. Inadequate staff work of any agency 
placed an increased burden on the staffs of all agencies the functions of 
which were related. To the extent that staff work could be improved 

The General Staff of the Department 315 

among related units, the effectiveness of the departmental staff might 
be increased. 

Relationships with Operating Bureaus 

Fundamentally the effectiveness of the departmental staff depended 
upon the applicability of its efforts to the operating agencies — an effec- 
tiveness enhanced by the capacity of the bureaus to impress careful and 
intelligent consideration upon the preparation of programs, priorities, 
administrative orders, and plans of operation and organization in the 
light of the cluster of activities of which the particular operating unit 
was a part and in the light of the facilities already available. Failure of a 
line agency to integrate its activities with those of other bureaus, par- 
ticularly in related fields, placed the burden of integration upon the 
departmental staff. This task was not merely a shift of work from one 
agency to another: it became infinitely more complex at the depart- 
mental level. A bureau staff is effective before decisions are consum- 
mated : the departmental staff frequently learns of important line plans 
only after they have been formulated. It is usually too late then to do 
more than effect compromises. 

When a line bureau initiated direct negotiations with agencies out- 
side the Department, such as the Congress or the General Accounting 
Office, and neglected to clear through the departmental general staff, 
the only safeguard against serious deviations from departmental policy, 
in lieu of strict departmental controls, was the quality of responsible 
bureau personnel. The operating agency must meet its responsibility 
for careful staff work if it was to meet its responsibility to the Depart- 
ment, to the Congress, and to the public. It was significant that three 
important operating officials — Messrs. Evans, Perkins, and Baldwin — 
were former members of the Secretariat. In their new positions they 
continued to serve the general staff not only by part-time consultation 
but, more important, also by relieving the staff of the need for close 
supervision of their agencies and by injecting into their organizations 
the spirit and purpose of departmental objectives. 

Interrelations with other departments required general-staff compe- 
tence. Operating agencies of two departments were frequently in agree- 
ment about coordinate participation in a problem area. When the 
effectuation of such coordination required a special interdepartmental 
agreement, the matter might be held up for months by one Secretary 
or by both Secretaries. Effective general-staff work should not only 
avoid such delays but also implement positively the integration of re- 

316 Department of Agriculture 

lated efforts. Although the Department's activities clustered about such 
subjects as land use, marketing, distribution, finance, and rural life, 
not one of these was the Department's exclusive concern; nor could a 
complete job be done in any of these fields unless the facilities of other 
departments were integrated. The departmental staff must address it- 
self to the interrelationships in each nucleus of activities, but its success 
was dependent upon comparable efforts in other departments and 
independent agencies. 

Final executive responsibility for departmental operations was in the 
President. One important responsibility of a Secretary was to report 
to the President on the programs under his jurisdiction; and the depart- 
mental staff must seek constantly to relate the Department's programs 
and policies to the President's programs and policies. Cabinet meetings 
afforded opportunities to discuss interdepartmental relationships of dif- 
ferent programs, but these efforts should be facilitated by adequate 
general-staff facilities under the President. The National Resources 
Planning Board was an important step toward the improvement of cen- 
tral direction by the Chief Executive, whose authorized six assistants 
should materially strengthen such direction. Increased competence and 
effectiveness at this point would provide for the departments that 
facilitation which the departmental staff offers the bureaus. 

* • • 

We have seen that the task of the departmental general staff was, 
in the light of the Department's function, almost insuperable. At the 
same time, we have emphasized that its work was, or should be, sup- 
plemented by the general staffs of operating agencies within the De- 
partment, of other departments, and of the President. An extension of 
competent staff work in all levels would materially reduce the pressure 
on the departmental staff. 

Chapter 16 


With the growth in an organization's line agencies, activities, 
equipment, and housing requirements, and in the complexity 
of its operations generally, the task of its head becomes in- 
creasingly difficult. 1 The head of a department in the national govern- 
ment has many responsibilities prescribed by statute, some of which 
are generally applicable to the heads of all departments, others of which 
are peculiar to his own post. He must, therefore, control his line agencies 
in the light of these responsibilities. Again, as the line agencies expand, 
some of their management problems become quantitatively great and 
require specialized and technical treatment. Of these problems, those 
that are common to several line agencies and susceptible of common 
treatment may economically be handled by officials whose whole at- 
tention may be devoted to them. These officials are, therefore, aides in 
two directions: they assist not only the department head in exercising 
his responsibility of control but also the line agencies. Hence, we employ 
the term "auxiliary services" as most descriptive of their work. 2 

Officials in charge of these services will, during their activity, build 
up a body of experience on fundamental problems of management that 
will be of great value in the planning of future programs. They will 
probably be called upon to advise the department head in the formula- 
tion of department policies; hence, they may properly be thought of as 
constituting a pool from which they may be drawn for general-staff 

1 See Leonard D. White, op. cit., especially pp. 73-82, 98-102, and 201-461, and Gaus, 
"A Theory of Organization," in Gaus, White, and Dimock, op. cit.; see also Arthur 
Macmahon, "Departmental Management," in Report (With Special Studies) of the 
President's Committee on Administrative Management, pp. 247-79. For an extended 
discussion of this question, see Macmahon and Millett, op. cit., especially chaps, i-v; com- 
ments particularly relevant to what we term the auxiliary services will be found on pp. 4, 
5, 8, and 15; on pp. 47-51 is a discussion of the role played in the Department of Agri- 
culture by the Directors of Budget and Finance, of Personnel, and the Chief of the 
Division of Operations; on pp. 65-76, the function of the "supervisory aides" in the De- 
partment of Agriculture. We have not followed the terminology of Messrs. Macmahon and 
Millett but use rather the terms "general staff" and "auxiliary services" as employed by 
Leonard D. White. 

2 Other terms employed to designate these services are "technical staff services," "house- 
keeping services," "process agencies," "functional units," "management agencies." Mr. 
White defines them as "agencies whose function is to perform a common activity enabling 
the line agencies to maintain themselves as working organizations." 


318 Department of Agriculture 

work as occasion warrants. The chief of an auxiliary service, however, 
is not necessarily a continuing member of the general staff, whose mem- 
bership is marked rather by a peculiarity of status and of relationship 
to the department head. The auxiliary service is a somewhat more 
formalized continuing service of control and facilitation, based largely 
upon the delegation by the department head of control duties and partly 
upon the effective performance of services that facilitate the operation 
of the line agencies. 

The auxiliary services of the Department in 1939 were the Offices of 
Budget and Finance, Personnel, the Solicitor, Information, and Plant 
and Operations; the Offices of Land Use Coordination, C.C.C. Activi- 
ties, Experiment Stations, and the Directors of Extension and Research ; 
the Library; and occasional ad hoc committees. 3 Changes in political 
policy and programs and the factor of personality influenced assign- 
ments to general-staff posts. Furthermore, the duties of some of the 
auxiliary services — notably the Offices of Budget and Finance, Person- 
nel, the Solicitor, and Information and the Directorship of Research — 
might require general-staflf activities by their chiefs. 


The necessity for the Secretary's employment of aides may be indi- 
cated by an enumeration of some of the types of managerial responsi- 
bility placed upon him. Under a general authorization he might 
"prescribe regulations, not inconsistent with law, for the government of 
his Department, the conduct of its officers and clerks, the distribution 
and performance of its business, and the custody, use, and preservation 
of the records, papers, and property appertaining to it." 4 In the field of 
finance he was to "direct and superintend the expenditure of all money 
appropriated to the Department and render accounts thereof." 5 He was 
required to sign requisitions for printing and to "direct whether reports 
made to them by bureau chiefs and chiefs of divisions shall be printed 
or not." 6 Furthermore, before any part of printing appropriations might 
be used for illustrations or engraving in documents or reports the Secre- 
tary was required to "certify in a letter transmitting such report that 

3 Until 1939, for example, the Department had a Technical Advisory Board and a Com- 
mittee on Space; by Memorandum No. 809 (February 27, 1939), the Secretary assigned 
their functions to the reconstituted Office of Plant and Operations. See Appendix C, below 
at page 508. 

4 17 Stat. L. 283. 

5 25 Stat. L. 659. 

6 28 Stat. L. 622. 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 319 

the illustration is necessary and relates entirely to the transaction of 
public business." 7 

The Secretary was given wide authority in making appointments 8 
and efficiency ratings. 9 In classifying personnel he was required to "al- 
locate all positions in his department in the District of Columbia to 
their appropriate grades in the compensation schedules and . . . [to] 
fix the rate of compensation of each employee thereunder, in accordance 
with the rules prescribed in section 6 herein." 10 The Department's ex- 
tension activities were to be "carried on in such manner as may be 
mutually agreed upon by the Secretary of Agriculture and the State 
agricultural college or colleges receiving the benefits of this Act." 11 In 
the work of the Experiment Stations the Secretary must "furnish forms, 
as far as practicable, for the tabulation of results of investigation or 
experiments; to indicate, from time to time, such lines of inquiry as to 
him shall seem most important; and, in general, to furnish such advice 
and assistance as will best promote the purposes of this Act." 12 

In administering these and other responsibilities the Secretary was 
assisted by the various auxiliary services under procedures laid down 
in the departmental regulations that he promulgated after their prepara- 
tion in the Office of Budget and Finance. They comprised a stout loose- 
leaf volume; their extent is indicated by the following table of 
contents : 13 

Administrative. Organization, Informational Work, Publications, 
Annual Reports, Administrative Procedure, Communications, Real 
Estate, Transportation. 

Personnel. Appointments, Duties of Employees, Classification of 
Positions, Promotions and Demotions, Leave, Reappointments, Trans- 
fers, Termination of Services, Investigations. 

Fiscal. Accounts and Disbursements, Employment, Purchases, Trans- 

Property. Acquisition of Property, Management of Property, Recorda- 
tion of Property, Disposal of Property. 

7 33 Stat. L. 1213. 
"The Secretary of Agriculture is hereby authorized to make such appointments, pro- 
motions, and changes in salaries, to be paid out of the lump funds of the several bureaus, 
divisions and offices of the Department as may be for the best interests of the service . . . 
and directed to pay the salary of each employee from the roll of the bureau, independent 
division, or office in which the employee is working, and no other." 34 Stat. L. 1280. 

9 "The head of each department shall rate in accordance with such systems the efficiency 
of each employee under his control or direction." 42 Stat. L. 1490. 

10 42 Stat. L. 1489. 

^38 Stat. L. 373. 

^24 Stat. L. 441. 

13 For illustrations of the way in which these regulations provide for procedural control 
in the Department see below, Appendix C, p. 489. 

320 Department of Agriculture 

The regulations might be said to constitute the Department's "house 
policy." They were supplemented from time to time by instructions 
given in the Secretary's Memoranda, Budget and Finance Circulars, 
Personnel Circulars, Office of Plant and Operations Circulars, and In- 
formational Memoranda to Chiefs of Bureaus and Offices. 


The role of the auxiliary services is one of the most controversial 
problems of administrative management. It is at the point of general 
auxiliary control and facilitation that complaint of red tape and of 
bureaucracy most frequently centers. Obviously any procedure that adds 
to the number of decisions to be made and of records to be kept may 
retard action and invite a slackening of morale and of a sense of responsi- 
bility. The farther away one gets from the immediate firing line of 
attack upon a line agency's subject-matter problems, the greater is the 
possibility of distorting events to be recorded and used as a basis for 
further action. 14 That the administration of complex institutions is dif- 
ficult and dangerous is apparent. It is made possible, however, by the 
auxiliary services and the general staff. As Arthur Macmahon and John 
Millett point out, 15 adequate staffing at the top of a department does not 
restrict bureau chiefs; it frees them. It may, indeed, as the same authors 
assert, lead to "the liberation of the energies of the operating units." 
Auxiliary services, furthermore, must be judged in the light of the 
division of labor required if a department's responsibilities are to be 
met. The more detailed the division of labor, the more difficult is the 
task of developing that unified and general direction which Brooks 
Adams rightly asserted as the central problem of administration. 


Accusations of red tape and bureaucracy, in the meaning given these 
terms by popular usage, should be examined through a somewhat more 
detailed analysis of the auxiliary services. They relieved the overhead 
department chief of detailed management of his responsibilities for 
finance, personnel, purchasing, and other control activities. They sorted 
out from the mass of daily activities those questions that might contain 
the germs of important problems of policy, or that might warrant some 
specialized consideration, and brought them, if it seemed desirable, with 

14 Note the discussion by Walter Lippmann in Public Opinion (1922) of the processes of 
distortion that intervene between "the world outside" and "the pictures in our heads." 

15 Op. tit., p. 8. 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 321 

supporting data, to the attention of the general staff. They facilitated 
more effective consultation between the department head and the 
bureau chiefs by seeing that the information necessary for adequate 
treatment of a problem was made available and by detecting questions 
that needed consideration. 

The auxiliary services relieved the line bureaus of much of the special- 
ized work incident to their activities and enabled an over-all depart- 
mental policy to be developed that would protect the line bureau and 
also adapt its requirements to those laid down by statute and regulation 
for the national government as a whole. They might at times protect 
higher officials of a line bureau from pressures by assuming responsi- 
bility for withholding a decision that the bureau alone might with 
embarrassment feel constrained to take. 16 The auxiliary services relieved 
the department head also by taking over much of the burden of inter- 
viewing and of general public and legislative relations. 

External Representation 

The auxiliary services might be said to "run interference" for the line 
bureaus. Their action extended beyond the Department as they became 
the point of clearance within their fields for relations with the various 
general auxiliary services of the national government as a whole. Thus, 
the Office of Personnel handled all relations with the U. S. Civil Service 
Commission, although officials from the line bureaus might negotiate 
on personnel matters with the Commission if they had cleared through 
the Personnel Office. The Office of Budget and Finance was the Depart- 
ment's official representative before the Bureau of the Budget, the 
Treasury Department, and the Appropriations Committees of the Con- 
gress. The Office of the Solicitor had charge of relations with the 
Comptroller General 17 and the Attorney General and represented the 
Department before the editor of the Federal Register. The Office of 
Information conducted business with the Government Printing Office. 
The Office of Plant and Operations was responsible for the Depart- 
ment's relations with the agencies in charge of public-building construc- 
tor example, a bureau chief was sometimes glad to have the Office of Personnel reject 
a request for a promotion on the ground that it was out of line with general departmental 
standards. A bureau chief might not want to turn down such a request flady and yet 
might not be in a position to make an issue of the question. Again, when certain operations 
stopped through expiration of a provision in the appropriation act or of the program 
generally, it was useful to the bureau chief to have the Office of Personnel behind him 
when he had to discontinue the positions involved. 

17 The Office of Budget and Finance shared with the Solicitor the responsibility of der 
partmental relations with the Comptroller General (see Department Regulation 31 11). 

322 Department of Agriculture 

tion and management. The Office of Personnel represented the 
Department on the Council of Personnel Administration. 

The Department's auxiliary services also cleared with the auxiliary 
services of those bureaus that had developed such a division of labor. 
The Forest Service, the Soil Conservation Service, and the F.S.A., for 
example, had their own personnel, budgeting, and purchasing prob- 
lems that exceeded in volume, if not variety, similar problems of most 
state governments. Each had its own personnel, budget, and informa- 
tion auxiliary service. The smaller bureaus might combine personnel 
and budgeting duties under an official with the title of business manager 
or assistant chief. 18 

The general national auxiliary services 19 performed the same task on 
their level as did the departmental auxiliary services on the depart- 
mental level. They supplemented departmental attitudes by considera- 
tions applicable to all departments ; they might be considered a potential 
corrective to excessive and ingrown departmental attitudes. 20 


Auxiliary agencies may contribute greatly to a reduction in the ele- 
ments of favoritism and chance: in cutting across a number of line 
bureaus they develop standard classifications and procedures. The de- 
velopment of standard classifications makes necessary the development 
of standards themselves, and this task forces a search for objective meas- 
urement. The process is seen in its simplest form, perhaps, in connection 
with the classification of books for library service. But the best illustra- 

18 The line of career that came up through the posts of bureau chief, business manager, 
or assistant chief was important; from it one could cite many illustrations of the existence 
of a career service in the "clerical, administrative and fiscal" services. The officials in these 
bureau-management positions gave continuity to procedure and were indispensable when 
new units had to be established and organization and procedure outlined. Thus, Mr. F. J. 
Hughes, the business manager of the B.A.E., was loaned for a period to assist in the organi- 
zation of the A.A.A. because of his long experience in government administration. For an 
account of this type of career service, see P. W. Melton (formerly of the Office of Per- 
sonnel), "Administration in a Federal Government Bureau," American Political Science 
Review, October, 1939, pp. 835 ff. 

19 We do not discuss the general auxiliary services of the national government because 
they have been so amply presented in: Preliminary Report of the Select Committee of the 
United States Senate to Investigate the Executive Agencies of the Government, and Report 
(With Special Studies) of the President's Committee on Administrative Management. See 
also Harvey Mansfield, The Comptroller General (1939), and James L. McCamy, Govern- 
ment Publicity (1939). 

20 The Central Statistical Board, for example (transferred under Reorganization Order 
No. 1 to the Bureau of the Budget in the Executive Office of the President) was a means 
whereby the inevitable departmental emphasis in the collection and appraisal of data 
found some qualification by the Board's effort to reduce duplication and to encourage 
jointly planned research. 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 323 

tion is the rise since 1900 of standard personnel classifications based upon 
detailed job analyses, analyses of the resulting qualifications essential 
to perform the duties analyzed, the determination of the proper rates of 
payment to those so qualified and performing such duties; and an in- 
dication of the line of career for a standard group of positions. 

Personnel classification of this sort democratizes administration by 
reducing whim and caprice and by enlarging the area of objective 
measurement. Such an auxiliary service requires, of course, additional 
record-keeping and checks upon the activities of operating officials; 
yet it has a positive aspect that cannot be ignored. The development of 
democratic public standards in administrative processes — that is to say, 
of standards that open on fair terms opportunities for employment and 
for the supply of services generally — is as important in a modern state 
as is the safeguarding of the electoral process and of legislative rules of 
procedure. Hence, the work of the auxiliary services in this field must 
not be underestimated. 


Some of the Department's auxiliary services were the points at which 
important continuing research in governmental problems was under- 
taken. The Offices of Budget and Finance and of Personnel consciously 
recognized a responsibility for such research within their spheres. They 
conducted current studies of organization and procedure and were alert 
to the need to have on their staffs persons competent for such activity. 
The student of administration in a university position may well acquaint 
himself with this work and the persons engaged in it, for there are 
certain fields of research that can best be undertaken inside a depart- 
ment, just as others can best be explored from the outside. The Office of 
the Solicitor, for example, was in 1939 conducting a study of procedures 
developed under the regulatory statutes by the Department's agencies 
charged with their administration. This study in administrative law 
could best be done within the Department, in view of its resources. It 
should, however, be supplemented by research workers in a law school 
or department of political science, who could, without any commitment 
to the Department, appraise locally, or in terms of a commodity, the 
effect of departmental activities on the administration of the regulatory 


The fact that auxiliary service was indispensable did not prevent the 
continuance of a sharp fire of criticism. In the Department's early years 

324 Department of Agriculture 

such criticism probably was made of the Propagating Gardens, of the 
Library, and of other auxiliary services; but criticism became acute, and 
sometimes personally embittered, as a department head increasingly 
delegated control to auxiliary services. The dangers that come in this 
division of labor seem fundamentally to be two. First, the addition of 
another stage of review of action means that clearance takes longer and 
record-keeping is more complicated. These may seem unimportant in 
themselves, but for large organizations the results may be serious. Take 
a single minor point, such as the transmission of papers from a line 
bureau to the Secretary. The insertion of an additional step — that of 
obtaining action by the auxiliary service — might multiply considerably 
the number and movements of papers and thus slow down action and 
increase the risk of the papers' being lost during the process of trans- 
mission. 21 

In the second place, an auxiliary service may separate further the 
viewpoint and experience of operating officials on the firing line from 
the higher directive officials; it may injure the line bureau activities 
by subjecting their highly specialized requirements to the enforcement 
of general standards which, however honestly and ably developed and 
administered, are too generalized to meet the line agency's specialized 
needs. Frequently relations between line officials and auxiliary services 
within bureaus, within departments, and within the national govern- 
ment as a whole are characterized by quarrels and conflict over the as- 
signment of office space, the classification of a position, the withholding 
of permission to publish a bulletin, or the transfer of part of an appropri- 
ation from one item to another. The line officials, and more particularly 
civil servants in less important posts, feel that the heads of auxiliary 
services are constantly reaching out for more power to control opera- 
tions and are steadily invading the area of line activities. 

Conflicts and Controls 

It is precisely these questions, dealt with by the auxiliary services, 
that govern so much of the daily work — or at least the conditions under 

a A similar result flowed from the Department's size, the number of steps in the 
hierarchy from the ultimate work unit to the Secretary, and from the division of labor 
reflected in the line agency's organization. Plans and reports that emerged far down the 
line might be almost unrecognizable to their progenitors when they reached the Secretary's 
Office. They might have been altered at many stages to suit the differing needs and out- 
looks of successive unit chiefs. The same distortion might take place as the process was 
reversed; the efforts of a Secretary, a director, or a chief of bureau to effect a change of 
emphasis or procedure might carry only the faintest of influences when the ultimate work 
unit was reached. This is why some of the political directive officials who come to power 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 325 

which it is performed. The question of the amount of an official's office 
space may seem trivial; actually it may greatly affect his morale or the 
conditions under which he does his work. Since these conflicts arise 
frequently, there is a natural search for fixed standards and precedents 
that will enable a decision to be reached more easily and quickly or 
that will even prevent a conflict. A result is the forcing of the individual 
situation into a standardized classification. To avoid individual con- 
flicts, it will be decided, for example, that anyone with a civil service 
classification in grade P-7 or above will be entitled to an office with two 
bays. Thus, one can easily envisage an accumulation of standard rulings 
and precedents that would surround the civil servant in his daily work 
and offer the target for the critics of red tape and bureaucracy. 22 

The auxiliary official is sometimes inclined to the view that the oper- 
ating official almost wilfully neglects considerations of procedure and 
gaily leads his office into trouble with the Civil Service Commission, 
the General Accounting Office, or the courts. Hence, a kind of friendly 
but firm parental control must be exercised; this control requires a 
steady extension of record-keeping, the initialing of documents, and 
similar devices for seeing that the operating official is properly brought 
up. Encouragement is given to the development of a "we" versus "they" 
conflict of attitudes. In the divisions, sections, and work units gloomy 
forebodings are uttered about what "they" will do next. 

The line official receives the full brunt of face-to-face dealings with the 
public. Offended citizens may strike back through the Congress and 
the Secretary's Office ; an investigation by an auxiliary official may result. 
From the line official's viewpoint the auxiliary service official leads by 
comparison the life of a worker in a sheltered industry. The auxiliary 
service official, however, is more directly exposed to attacks by general 
over-all auxiliary and control agencies, such as the Civil Service Com- 
mission, the Procurement Division, and the General Accounting Office. 
So in his turn he equally gloomily wonders what violations of law are 
being unconcernedly made by the line. Inquiries about budget, per- 

with a change of party resent and are skeptical of permanence of tenure of officials under 
civil service statutes. 

22 In a satirical novel by Edward Shanks, The Old Indispensable s (1919), the life of an 
English civil servant is portrayed in terms that reflect these problems. A rich field awaits 
cultivation by novelists in the life of the American civil servant. Occasional sketches by 
editorial staff writers of the Washington newspapers, who have columns on the civil 
service, give glimpses of the more human aspects of the civil servant's life. But the subject 
calls for portraiture on a larger canvas, which would help to break down the distorted view 
that is widely held. See on this point Humbert Wolfe, "Some Public Servants in Fiction," 
Public Administration, II, 39-57 (1924). 

326 Department of Agriculture 

sonnel, or hearing procedures, for instance, initiated by the auxiliary 
service concerned, may be greeted far down the line with the suspicion 
that new controls will result; an atmosphere of minor crisis develops 
and preparations are made to return information that will postpone, if 
not avoid, the calamity. 

All conflicts that have marked the introduction of a division of labor 
in management in business and industry are present also in government. 
Their effect is to dampen morale in the operating staff and to cause a 
general letdown throughout the organization. This effect is far more 
costly than the delay in time, the making of additional records, or the 
risk of loss of documents. A struggle seems to go on between the aux- 
iliary service and the operating officials : the former, anxious to safeguard 
the standards that it has set for the agency, is ready to add to its control 
over operations in order to insure the enforcement of those standards; 
the operating official, on the other hand, tackles the difficult subject- 
matter problems placed upon his agency by law and is eager to be as 
free as possible in arriving at his decisions without having to obtain 
approval of auxiliary service officials. 

Basic Challenge to Auxiliary Services 

Administration would, of course, be easier if the line official had the 
time for, and the knowledge of, special techniques with which to meet 
problems of personnel, budgeting, information, purchasing, legal in- 
terpretation, documentary research, and similar fields; thus he could 
himself meet the general requirements of departmental policy as well as 
those placed upon administration as a whole. Actually, however, he 
rarely has such comprehensive knowledge; consequently, he must de- 
pend upon personnel who can devote themselves to these techniques 
and adapt them to his requirements. It would be equally ideal if a de- 
partment head could deal directly with his line officials on these matters. 
In a small and simple organization this is possible and necessary in order 
to meet the limitations of overhead costs. But, again, these conditions 
are not present in large-scale business and governmental institutions. 
In a sense the person who criticizes red tape and bureaucracy might 
more appropriately criticize power industry and rapid communication, 
which have made division of labor possible and ultimately necessary. 

Is there any standard whereby the value of an auxiliary service can 
be measured? How large a departmental budget or personnel staff is 
necessary? How much of an auxiliary service is required for a line 
bureau? At what point do the economies in central purchasing over- 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 327 

come a line bureau's convenience of doing its own purchasing? A report 
made in 1938 by the Office of Budget and Finance — through its Division 
of Purchase, Sales and Traffic — on purchasing in the Department re- 
vealed that purchasing by lower units resulted in higher cost of purchase 
and storage and that there was a great variation in practices at points 
where uniformity should result in lowered costs. Although little re- 
search had been done on this important phase of management, its need 
was recognized, and in 1939 the Office of Budget and Finance was 
undertaking its development. The institution of research units in the 
Bureau of the Budget and in the Council of Personnel Administration 
offered an opportunity for developing standards whereby auxiliary 
services could be measured. 

We can visualize better the complexity of the administration of a 
large department if we take the office of the chief of an operating bureau 
as the central point in a department's administration and trace the lines 
of relationship that flow out from it. The direct hierarchical line of 
authority runs up to the department head and down to his division 
chiefs in the Washington office, and through them to the sections; 
through the chief officers of the regions in the field it runs to state repre- 
sentatives of the bureau, and finally, perhaps, to those in charge of 
projects in the field or field stations. To assist the bureau chief are his 
own auxiliary services under an assistant chief or business manager. 
These bureau auxiliary services, in turn, clearing either through the 
bureau chief or by direct negotiation, present the bureau's auxiliary 
service business to the various departmental auxiliary services; the lat- 
ter in turn will clear through the bureau chief and his auxiliary staff in 
the enforcement of departmental controls and policy in their respective 
fields. The difficulties of eliminating friction in such a mechanism are 
great enough in the Washington offices. They are even greater in the 
field, where the necessity for accommodating general departmental 
rules to varied local situations is present and where perhaps no field 
representatives of the departmental auxiliary services are permanently 
stationed. 23 

All negotiations over management problems affecting departmental 
auxiliary services must travel the somewhat devious and time-consuming 
path back to Washington for action by officials who may have had 
little experience in the particular setting in which the field official is 

23 Some of the larger line agencies, such as the Forest Service, the Soil Conservation 
Service, and the F.S.A., had auxiliary services at their regional offices. On this problem 
see David E. Lilienthal, "Administrative Decentralization of Federal Functions," Advanced 
Management, January-February-March, 1940, pp. 3-8. 

328 Department of Agriculture 

operating. Nevertheless, without some instruments of standardization 
and control the Department would break sharply into a number of 
autonomous operating bureaus, and the possibility would be remote 
of obtaining integration of programs and the economy in management 
that standardization permits. We are returned, therefore, to the original 
dilemma. If the governmental system is reflective of the needs for public 
action in a complicated industrial society, it must struggle with the 
equally complicated processes of administrative management. Hence, 
the challenge to the auxiliary service is that it be genuinely auxiliary 
and that it win the confidence of the operating officials by assisting them 
in obtaining the right man for the job, the best materials, and whatever 
else may be necessary to enable them to devote themselves with greater 
freedom to their subject-matter problems. 

Auxiliary Services Essential to Constitutional Government 

Even if there were no case for the auxiliary services as facilitators of 
the line operations or as management aides to a department head, they 
would still be necessary as part of the practical application of checks 
and controls inherent in a constitutional, representative government. 
The Constitution of the United States provides that "No Money shall 
be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of Appropriations 
made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts 
and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to 
time." If this rule of procedure and other similar rules, such as those 
in statutes, in the President's executive orders, and in court decisions, 
are to be more than pious wishes, some agency within the government 
must enforce them in daily activities. The Congress is too remote and 
overburdened to perform this task, although it may do something 
through its annual review of the departments in the consideration of 
their appropriations and through its special investigations. Generally 
speaking, however, the Congress cannot meet its responsibilities as an 
agency for enforcing basic rules of procedure unless it improves its 
committee organization and procedure: the functional area for which 
its committees are responsible would have to be coterminous with the 
functional areas of the executive departments; each committee would 
have to have a permanent staff qualified by training and experience to 
report currently to the committee on the work in that function. If the 
Congress were really serious in its desire to serve effectively as a control 
authority, it would establish a series of joint committees of this type and 
provide them with staffs. Up to the time of this study the only approach 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 329 

toward such an assumption of responsibility was to be found in the 
House of Representatives' Committee on Appropriations, with its 
permanent clerical staff. This Committee, however, had an overwhelm- 
ing burden in the annual review of appropriation measures; further- 
more, its staff was so small that an intimate and effective control over 
departmental operations was impossible. 24 

The President's constitutional responsibility to "take Care that the 
Laws be faithfully executed" and the somewhat more general responsi- 
bility to control the executive departments through the heads whom he 
appoints and dismisses can in part be exercised effectively through 
auxiliary agencies. The U. S. Civil Service Commission, the Bureau 
of the Budget, and the other auxiliary agencies, and the corresponding 
auxiliary services in the departments, should be viewed not only as 
aides to management but also as integral parts of constitutional, repre- 
sentative government. The functioning of a personnel system, or of a 
good budget system, so that recruitment and promotion are based 
solely upon merit is essential to the maintenance of constitutional rights 
and liberties. The point is all the more important when one appreciates 
how much discretion is left to the executive branch under current 
conditions of government in the modern industrial state. The quality 
of the personnel and the traditions and procedures that develop may 
constitute the most powerful practical safeguard of public rights and 
liberties since they affect directly and continuously the tone and temper 
of government. For various reasons, such as the dramatic conflict over 
the Supreme Court in 1937, this point has been overlooked. Most 
people think of the courts as the sole guardians of constitutional rights 
and liberties. This is a serious mistake. Our rights and liberties are 
much more apt to be protected if we remember that the day-to-day 
control of expenditures, of personnel selection, and of other similar 
routine administrative activities determines the relations of government 
to its citizens. All these claims for the auxiliary services may be 
startling, but no one who has had the opportunity of seeing government 
in action and from within can refute the facts that support the claims. 25 
Such work is not dramatic, but it is decisive. 

24 A proposal to establish a Congressional Budget Service under a Joint Committee on 
Appropriations was embodied in S. 3715, 76th Cong., 3rd sess. 

25 This fact was realized by thoughtful civil servants and was illustrated by a remark of 
a field officer of the Forest Service with whom I was discussing the problem of auxiliary 
service controls over his operations on a responsible field assignment. He remarked that 
of course some of these controls were bothersome and sometimes added to the expense of 
operations, but he added that he — and most of the men in the field — appreciated 
was only right to safeguard in every possible way the expenditure of public money. J.M.G. 

330 Department of Agriculture 


The appropriation act is probably the single most important bit of 
legislation of a representative government. It is a still photograph of 
every activity of the government for the fiscal period. Equally im- 
portant is the procedure whereby the act comes to be adopted and the 
means that are taken for fulfilling its requirements. 26 Much of the re- 
sponsibility for the preparation of the budget and for its execution rests 
upon each department, which is intimately concerned also with the 
other stages in budget procedure. Years might pass without any new 
legislation affecting a department, yet ample provision for its con- 
tinuation might be found in the appropriation act. 

The budget is important as an act of authorization and also as an 
opportunity for internal, as well as external, review and appraisal of a 
department's operations. The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, 
like the Classification Act of 1923, was of greater importance in the 
fundamentals of American constitutional government than many 
phrases in the Constitution itself. It may be said to have affirmed 
positively for the first time in our history the necessity of responsible 
preparation for submission to the Congress of the executive's spending 
program for the next fiscal period; the creation by the House of 
Representatives of a unified review agency in the Committee on Ap- 
propriations was an equally important affirmation of the need for 
moving toward a more coherent review of the executive's program. 
There developed steadily from that time a growing recognition of 
the importance of each department's budget staff as a factor in a re- 
sponsible budget-preparing system. 

The Budget Process 

The Department's Office of Budget and Finance was established 
in 1934 as a separate agency by the Secretary in a memorandum (No. 
646) that stated: 

The Director of Finance, W. A. Jump, will be the chief fiscal officer 
of the Department. He will be the general agent and representative of 
the Secretary of Agriculture in matters of budget and finance and will 
exercise general oversight and supervision of the fiscal, accounting, 
purchasing and related work of the Department. The Director of 
Finance, who will continue to serve as Budget Officer of the Depart- 
ment, will be the contact officer, where financial and related matters 
are concerned, and will conduct or have general oversight of the busi- 

28 See Leonard D. White, op. cit., pp. 201-73. 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 331 

ness of the Department with Budget Bureau, the General Accounting 
Office, the Treasury Department, the Appropriations Committees 
and with other Departments of the Government and agencies doing 
business with the Department. 

The importance of this Office, both as a general-staff and as an auxiliary 
service, can better be understood by an account of the budget process. 
Since this process is described fully in Appendix A by Verne Lewis, 
there is no need to elaborate on it here. A few interpretive comments 
may be added, however, representing the views of one who observed 
the process from the outside. 

The work of the Director of the Office in presenting the estimates, 
both to the Bureau of the Budget and to the committees of the Con- 
gress, was of paramount importance. Thus, the Director appeared with 
each bureau chief before the representatives of the Bureau of the 
Budget. Following the policy that had developed in the Department, 
the Director endeavored to stress the appraisal of projects, rather than 
objects of expenditure or organization units, in order to concentrate 
attention on the more significant meaning and purpose behind the 
Department's work as reflected in a project, however small. Such an 
emphasis was designed to focus attention upon policy rather than upon 
the details of administration. Again, in the chief legislative review of 
the estimates — that in the hearings of the subcommittee of the House 
Committee on Appropriations — the Director of the Office of Budget 
and Finance played a major role. 27 

The Office, as the central point of negotiation with the Bureau of 
the Budget on allotments as well as estimates, with the Congress, with 
the Treasury Department, and with the General Accounting Office, 

^Probably the single most valuable source of material on the current activities of a 
government department is these hearings. See, for example, Hearings Before the Sub- 
committee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, Seventy-Sixth 
Congress, First Session, on the Agricultural Department Appropriation Bill for 1940 
(1939). Although some of the discussion in the hearings was "off the record" and there- 
fore not published in the printed hearings, there is in general a fairly complete record of 
the presentation of the work of each bureau by its chief and his supporting aides and of 
the questions and comments by members of the Committee. There is a series of tables 
covering the Department's finances and an opening presentation of the Department's pro- 
gram and needs by the Secretary. Following the appearance of the Department officials, 
opportunity to appear was given to Congressmen and to representatives of various groups 
having an interest in some particular part of the Department's work. 

While these hearings were being held (throughout several weeks of midwinter and 
early spring), the Office of Budget and Finance would also be responsible for facilitating 
the presentation before the Appropriations Committee Subcommittee of needs for deficiency 
appropriations for the current fiscal year. In 1939, for example, there were three deficiency 
acts; this fact meant that in the same session four separate appropriation acts affecting the 
Department were dealt with. 

332 Department of Agriculture 

inevitably developed a kind of control over expenditures through the 
sheer weight of its knowledge and experience and the need of line 
bureaus for its advice and guidance. This aspect of auxiliary services 
in general was well illustrated in the hearings before the Subcommittee 
of the Committee on Appropriations. On many occasions the Director 
could assist both the Committee and the bureau chief who was being 
examined : when he observed that a point had become obscure and that 
the inquiry was leading away from relevant facts, he could clarify the 
point under discussion or present pertinent supplementary informa- 
tion. Obviously, this ability required a high order of statesmanship. 
The Committee must have complete confidence in the integrity of the 
Director or else it would become suspicious and resent what it might 
look upon as an effort to lead it away from investigation into questions 
which the Department would not like to have exposed. The task also 
required an ability to interpret the specialized activities of a particular 
bureau so that they were understandable to laymen and were made to 
fit into the Department's program. 

Search for Standards of Measurement 

The importance of the Office of Budget and Finance arose inevitably 
out of its association at decisive points in the process of preparing and 
submitting estimates of expenditure and of administering, for the 
Secretary, controls after expenditures were authorized. The search for 
devices whereby activities might more accurately be described and 
measured and attention might be focused upon such standards of 
measurement as were developed was therefore constant and explicable. 
An official in the Bureau of the Budget or a member of a legislative 
committee might jeopardize the balance of activities as provided in 
departmental estimates by pursuing some point that was of particular 
concern to him but irrelevant to the fundamental problems. There 
were, of course, some objects of expenditure about which Congressmen 
were generally sensitive, such as passenger automobiles, travel, printing, 
the importance of equipment, and salary increases. 28 

On the whole the subcommittee's work was impressive, particularly 
when one appreciates how difficult was the task of reviewing the 
estimates and how limited the time. Probably it is at this point that 
an increased staff of experienced officials to be employed by the Ap- 

28 Note the discussion of the intricacies of salary classification in U. S. Congress. House. 
Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations. 75th Cong., 3rd sess., Hearings on 
the Agricultural Department Appropriation Bill for 1940, pp. 87-90. 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 333 

propriations Committee would be most valuable. Although the scrutiny 
of the Department's estimates by the Bureau of the Budget was relied 
upon to some extent by the subcommittee, there was nevertheless the 
feeling — inherent under our separation of powers — that this Bureau 
was, after all, not an agent of the Congress. There was also the natural 
suspicion that all the Department's representatives were making the 
best case possible for the Department. The one opportunity for some 
kind of external appraisal must, therefore, come at the stage of legis- 
lative review. Some Committee members made an effort to become 
acquainted with the Department's work in the field. The problem was 
so great, however, that probably only through more staff assistance 
could the appraisal become more searching. 

The same problem confronted the Office of Budget and Finance; it 
was significant that the Director moved toward the development of 
research studies in procedure and organization and in the selection of 
a personnel that could be trained to initiate inquiries and to make 
appraisals in order to meet this problem. By an emphasis on the relation 
of finance to the underlying work program and by the study of or- 
ganization and procedure whereby the work program could be under- 
taken more efficiently, perhaps the Department could more effectively 
plan and control its expenditures and thus avoid criticism and resent- 
ment that might strike down indiscriminately the essential as well as 
the peripheral. 

General Administrative Services 

The Office of Budget and Finance performed some general ad- 
ministrative services apart from its financial duties. It was responsible 
for the Department's regulations, which it prepared for issuance under 
the Secretary's authority. Proposals affecting legislation must first clear 
through it; later they were examined by the Bureau of the Budget, 
through which the President sought to insure coherence in legislative 
policy for the executive as a whole. The Office's Division of Purchase, 
Sales and Traffic dealt with the Procurement Division of the Treasury 
Department, for the Department of Agriculture; it also dealt with the 
various procurement offices within the line bureaus. The Office ad- 
ministered the Department's accounting system and was responsible 
for the Department's relations with the accounting and disbursing 
offices of the Treasury Department. It prepared and circulated, when 
Congress was in session, a "Daily Digest of Proceedings of Congress." 
In 1939 a new Division of Fiscal Management was established to conduct 

334 Department of Agriculture 

periodic examinations of the organization and procedures in the fiscal 
offices in Washington and in the field; to develop improved fiscal- 
management practices; and to maintain close contact, through a liaison 
staff, with the policies, programs, and operations of the large action 
agencies in order to facilitate departmental coordination and supervision 
of their programs. 29 These activities are described at greater length in 
Appendix A. 

The nature of the budget process inevitably gave the Office of Budget 
and Finance major responsibilities in general management in the De- 
partment. The experience of the Director and the confidence placed 
in his integrity and judgment by committees of Congress, Secretaries 
of Agriculture, and bureau chiefs combined to increase these responsi- 
bilities. The rapid expansion of activities, the appropriation of large 
sums for subsidies and grants-in-aid, and the conferring of discretionary 
power for allocating appropriations to operating units increased and 
complicated the Office's work. The Director's emphasis upon building 
a staff recruited from junior professional grades that would become 
competent, through experience, to appraise the Department's fiscal 
problems was of great significance for the development of public ad- 
ministration in the United States. 


During the Department's early history, when employees were few, 
they were hand-picked by the Secretary. As the organization expanded 
and as bureaus were established, the task of recommending appoint- 

29 Director Jump, in commenting upon the duties of the fiscal investigators to the sub- 
committee on the Agricultural Appropriation Bill for 1940, stated (Hearings on the 
Agricultural Department Appropriation Bill for 1940, pp. 84, 87) : "The other day the 
question arose as to why we cannot allocate functions to the various bureaus and hold the 
bureau chiefs responsible. That is what is done, and the bureau chief is held responsible. 

"But it is necessary for the Secretary to have some instrumentality of an effective 
character, to see and know what is going on and to see that certain standards are observed 
with some uniformity throughout the Department. In many cases the Secretary cannot tell 
whether functions are being discharged properly or not unless he has some articulate in- 
strumentality to determine whether responsibility delegated to others is being adequately 
discharged. . . . 

"In the final analysis we proceed on the administrative basis that the Bureau Chief is 
responsible for what goes on in his bureau and that the final audit by the General Ac- 
counting Office is the formal safeguard on all fiscal matters. But in between these two 
elements there is the widest possible zone of influence in the nature of operating procedure 
— in fact in the whole field of administrative management where it is essential, in the 
strongest and widest use of that word, to have a few people with high technical qualifica- 
tions going around and seeing how these varying types of work are being conducted and 
what kind of situations exist in the various agencies. This goes hand in hand with the 
development of constantly improving, and so far as possible, uniform, administrative, 
personnel, fiscal and other procedures. That is our objective here." 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 335 

ments shifted to the bureau chiefs; papers and records were then handled 
centrally by an Office of Appointments under the general supervision 
of a chief clerk who was responsible to the Secretary. In 1914 an Office 
of Inspection was created with authority to investigate and report upon 
disciplinary cases throughout the Department. 

Personnel responsibilities of department heads were increased and 
made more explicit by the Classification Act of 1923, which required 
allocation of all employees in the departmental offices in Washington 
to their appropriate grades as defined in the Act. This necessitated the 
immediate employment of a classification officer for the Department. 
W. W. Stockberger, who became the first personnel officer of an 
operating department, had served with the Joint Congressional Com- 
mittee for Reclassification, which in 1919 and 1920 had laid the ground- 
work for the Classification Act. He was a scientist of long experience 
in the Department and in charge of one of the research units of the 
Bureau of Plant Industry. He brought to the new position an under- 
standing of the personnel problems of a Department that had long 
been characterized by scientific activities. On April 7, 1925, the three 
offices having personnel functions — appointments, inspection, and 
classification — were consolidated with the offices charged with control 
of budget and fiscal matters into an Office of Personnel and Business 
Management; increase in work led to its separation into the Office 
of Personnel and Office of Budget and Finance. 30 

Changes in Organization 

Some changes were made in the organization and allocation of duties 
within the Office of Personnel following the retirement of Mr. Stock- 
berger 31 and the succession to the directorship of Roy F. Hendrickson 
in 1938. 32 These changes reflected not only the development over many 

^Secretary's Memorandum No. 646, May 17, 1934. The section relating to the Office 
of Personnel reads as follows: "The Director of Personnel, Dr. W. W. Stockberger, will 
be the chief personnel officer of the Department. He will be the general agent and represent- 
ative of the Secretary of Agriculture in personnel, salary classification, organization and 
related matters and will exercise general oversight and supervision of the personnel and 
related activities of the Department. The Director of Personnel will conduct the business 
of the Department with the Civil Service Commission and where personnel matters are 
concerned with other agencies doing business with the Department of Agriculture." For 
statistical data on the Department's personnel see below, Appendix C, pp. 493-97 ff. 

Mr. Stockberger, upon retirement from the directorship, was appointed as Special 
Adviser to the Secretary. His career is presented by Macmahon and Millett, op. cit., pp. 
47-49. Mr. Stockberger was in 1939 preparing a study of personnel administration in the 

32 "Memorandum to Chiefs of Bureaus and Offices" issued by the new Director on 
July 21, 1938, and the subsequent memorandum of December 18, 1939, described the 
reorganization and introduced new division chiefs. 

336 Department of Agriculture 

years of central departmental personnel services and controls but also 
the major tasks in personnel administration, which, after the Depart- 
ment's expansion in the New Deal period, required greatest emphasis. 
Many activities assigned to new divisions of the Office had long been a 
part of the Department's personnel program. 

The Division of Investigation was assigned personnel and other in- 
vestigations, inspections of field stations and offices, and review and 
recommendation of appropriate action in personnel disciplinary cases. 
The creation of the Division of Personnel Relations, Safety and Health 
followed the negotiation of a program of personnel relations upon 
which the Office had been engaged for some time. 33 A unit of this 
Division devoted its attention exclusively to employee grievances, com- 
plaints, and other matters affecting employee relations. Safety work 
and accident prevention became an essential part of the Department's 
personnel program. This work included the development of new 
protective devices for workers and machinery and of new methods of 
performing work that would reduce accident, health, and fire hazards; 
the conduct of safety training courses for supervisors; and the elimi- 
nation of potential accident and health hazards through physical in- 
spections. This Division also directed the Department's health and 
medical activities, including supervision of emergency treatment rooms, 
placement of first-aid kits, health surveys, and education. 

The Division of Qualification and Training (whose first chief was 
recruited from the F.S.A.) planned, developed, and maintained a 
program of recruitment, selection, and investigation of all applicants 
for positions in the Department; appraised qualifications and sub- 
mitted recommendations to bureau appointing officers; developed, 
coordinated, and supervised methods of transfer and promotion within 
the bureaus and departmental offices; located vacant positions and 
recommended suitable applicants after investigating their qualifica- 
tions; arranged for examinations with the Civil Service Commission; 
and promoted and developed a program of employee training for the 
Department. The establishment of this new Division reflected the 
increased emphasis in Washington on better selection and on in-service 
training after recruitment. Here again the Department pioneered. 
The Division of Classification investigated and recommended grade 
allocations for all positions in the Department, both in Washington 
and in the field, which were subject to the Classification Act of 1923 

83 The statement defining the procedure for handling employee relations is reproduced in 
Appendix C below at page 497. 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 337 

and to Executive Order No. 6746 (issued June 21, 1934), which provided 
for extending classification to field positions. 

The Division of Organization and Management, created after the 
general reorganization of the Office, reviewed proposed organizational 
changes requiring the approval of the Director of Personnel; it con- 
ducted studies in organization, procedures, and management for the 
purpose of improving structural arrangements, distribution of func- 
tions, fines of authority, flow of work, and work-load distribution. The 
functions of the Division of Appointment Records are indicated by 
its title: it maintained the retirement records, the personnel records 
generally, and the files, and it contained a statistical and mechanical 
tabulating section. 

Allocation of Responsibility 

While control of personnel matters was largely vested in the Secre- 
tary, much of his responsibility was delegated to the Director of Per- 
sonnel, who in turn emphasized the greatest possible delegation of 
responsibilities "down the line." Substantial personnel responsibilities 
are an integral part of the managerial function of every executive, 
from the chief administrators to the supervisors of the smallest units; 
it was the Department's program to delegate generously but to follow 
that delegation by a constant flow of education, stimulation, and as- 
sistance. The program was one of mutual cooperation between the 
bureaus and the Office of Personnel and of active assistance to the U. S. 
Civil Service Commission and other authorities to insure adherence 
to laws and regulations on all personnel matters. 

The Department's traditional policy was to place responsibility for 
personnel administration on the line bureaus; 34 consequently, most 
bureaus had personnel officers to whom was delegated a large measure 
of responsibility for administering the Department's personnel program 
with their units. They served as spokesmen for their units on personnel 
problems with the Office of Personnel. The operating official generally 
should be most familiar with the needs of his office and with the 
sources of adequately equipped personnel. This statement was par- 
ticularly true of the Department of Agriculture, many line agencies 

34 Much of the emphasis in discussions of personnel administration has been placed on 
the control agencies, such as the Civil Service Commission, so that we have sometimes 
forgotten that such personnel agencies are, after all, only means to an end; that is, the 
procuring of the right man to do the job in a line agency. Lewis Meriam, in Public Per- 
sonnel Problems (1938), corrects this emphasis by presenting personnel problems "from 
the standpoint of the operating officer." 

338 Department of Agriculture 

of which were engaged in activities so specialized that their officials 
were intimately acquainted with all the work done in the specialized 
field in the United States. The Forest Service, for example, had been 
the chief point of recruitment in this country for trained foresters. 35 
Many units of the Bureau of Animal Industry and of the Bureau of 
Plant Industry offered the only positions in which certain types of 
research were done. The Soil Conservation Service almost alone created 
new kinds of employment. The chiefs of these agencies must, therefore, 
necessarily keep closely in touch with universities and other sources 
of new recruits 36 and must themselves constantly be developing various 
types of in-service training. 

Need for General Personnel Agency 

Nevertheless, there was a real place for a general departmental per- 
sonnel agency. Of course, the Secretary must have aides to assist him 
in the performance of his duties under the Classification Act and in 
maintaining the morale of the Department by developing common 
standards to govern salary increases and promotions. When one line 
agency, or one type of employment, seemed to be unusually fortunate 
in the number and extent of promotions or salary increases, the effect 
was felt throughout the Department and, in fact, among other de- 
partments. Consequently, one of the most difficult problems in per- 
sonnel administration resulted, and the Reclassification Act made pos- 
sible the development of more objective standards. There remained, 
nevertheless, a large area of responsibility with the departments in the 
administration of the Act. 

In addition to this general departmental responsibility, there was a 
large area in which a departmental personnel office could positively 
facilitate the work of the line bureaus by providing common services. 
For example, the field services were not included under the original 
Classification Act of 1923, as amended. In 1930, however, department 
heads and independent establishments were directed to adjust the 
compensation of positions in the field services to correspond so far as 

85 The personnel program of the Forest Service is discussed in the Report of the Per- 
sonnel Officers' Conference, held by the Forest Service in Washington on March 14-26, 
1938, at which the regional personnel officers met with officials of the Forest Service and 
of the Office of Personnel. See also Careers in Forestry, Misc. Pub. No. 249. The Chief of 
the Division of Personnel Management of the Forest Service was Perry A. Thompson, a 
career officer of the Service. 

'"See the memorandum to bureau chiefs from the Office of Personnel reproduced in 
Appendix C below at page 502. 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 339 

practicable to rates under the amended Classification Act. 37 The De- 
partment had, through the Office of Personnel, accomplished much 
toward bringing its field services in line with classification in the de- 
partmental offices in Washington. This work was complicated by the 
great variety of positions and their wide geographic distribution. The 
bulk of professional jobs was in the field. Although the allocation of 
positions in Washington was subject to the review of the Civil Service 
Commission, the Department had final authority over the classifica- 
tion of field positions. In this work the relationship of the Office of 
Personnel to the field service resembled that of the Commission to 
the Washington service. 

Thus, the Office of Personnel found that it exercised final classifica- 
tion authority over more professional positions than did the Commis- 
sion in its relationship to the entire federal government. An additional 
complicating factor was the necessity for classifying ten thousand or 
more field positions under Executive Order No. 6746 (June 21, 1934). 
Many employments, not only in the clerical, administrative, and fiscal 
services but also in the professional services, were common to most, 
if not all, line bureaus; hence departmental policy on recruitment and 
training for these positions was advantageous. At times many line 
bureaus desired to negotiate with the Civil Service Commission about 
examinations and selection from lists of eligibles. Nevertheless, ex- 
perience demonstrated the advantage of clearing through the depart- 
mental Office; it was constantly engaged in negotiations with the 
Commission and was, on occasion, able to disentangle a line bureau 
from procedural complications. 

Requests from all bureaus that employed personnel in identical or 
similar lines of work were coordinated; assistance was rendered to the 
Civil Service Commission in drafting announcements and in preparing 
examinations. It was useful also to have a means of investigating and 
checking the exercise of discretionary power of necessity given to field 
officials who employed field men under "letters of authorization," 
issued by the Secretary. Under these letters a field officer was permitted 
to employ within the sums allocated under the appropriations for 
temporary services. The Office of Personnel also provided assistance 
and guidance to the new agencies established after 1933, some of them 
exempt from the civil service law and the Classification Act, and 

87 46 Stat. L. 1003. The problems of classification, salary increases within grades (mis- 
termed "administrative promotions"), and promotions are revealed in the Hearings on the 
Agricultural Department Appropriation Bill for 1940, pp. 87-90, 1268-78. 

340 Department of Agriculture 

helped to bring them within the Department's general policies so that 
they would not be too disruptive of morale. 38 

Development of Departmental Policies 

The Office of Personnel offered many illustrations of the way in which 
an auxiliary service might develop departmental policies out of the 
more formal requirements embodied in statutes, in executive orders, 
and in related responsibilities of the Secretary. When the Civil Service 
Commission sent to the Department the names of persons eligible for 
appointment to a position, their experience and educational qualifica- 
tions remained to be evaluated. This work required not only an in- 
vestigation but also a background knowledge of the position, of the 
training in that field offered by various educational institutions, and 
of the kinds of education that would contribute to a recruit's develop- 
ment. After his entrance into the Department, the task of immediate 
job-training required that a recruit be initiated into his duties as 
quickly and as economically as possible; then, too, there was the larger 
problem of placement and guidance. Potential recruits for higher grades 
and for directive positions must be discovered and developed; morale 
must be improved by the opening up, through transfer or promotion, 
of a better adjustment of civil servants to positions. 39 

The Office supervised the application throughout the Department 
of the efficiency rating system promulgated by the Civil Service Com- 
mission under the Classification Act of 1923. A complementary rating 
plan was being developed for uniform application to the field forces 
under Executive Order of June 24, 1938. Efficiency ratings were utilized 

38 See Macmahon and Millett, op. cit., p. 112, for a discussion of the work performed by 
the late Julien N. Friant, when he was Special Assistant to the Secretary, in recruiting for 
positions exempt from the merit system. Qualifying examinations were required of ap- 
plicants recommended for these positions. It should be noted that the new agencies in- 
cluded personnel offices among their auxiliary services. 

39 During 1938 personnel questionnaires were filled out by all the Department's em- 
ployees. The "Memorandum to Chiefs of Bureaus and Offices" dated July 15, 1938, ac- 
companying the questionnaire, stated that: "The Office of Personnel with the cooperation 
of bureau administrative offices has now developed a program looking towards the es- 
tablishment of placement machinery which, if employees cooperate, should prove highly 
effective in advancing the Departmental promotional policy. 

"The first essential in establishing such machinery is an adequate description of the 
experience and training of each employee. It is requested therefore that each person who 
holds a formal Secretarial appointment in the Department carefully complete the personnel 
questionnaire which is attached, and that in the future each new appointee fill out this 
personnel questionnaire in addition to the personal history sheet when reporting for duty. 

"Qualification punch cards will be made from the data obtained from these question- 
naires and will be used for placement and promotion purposes. Through the use of these 
cards the availability of employees qualified for openings which may occur can be estab- 
lished where present available records fail to serve that purpose." 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 341 

in making salary increases and decreases and in reductions in force. 
Though each bureau had its own Board of Review of Efficiency Ratings, 
here again the need to develop and coordinate the use of departmental 
standards in the interests of morale placed a responsibility on the 
Office. 40 On May 4, 1938, policies of personnel relations and procedures 
were laid down in a memorandum (No. 753) prepared by the Di- 
rector of Personnel following a long period of exploration and con- 
ference with employees, organized groups, supervisors, and admin- 
istrators. This memorandum assured the employee the right to join 
or refrain from joining any association of employees; it established a 
standard procedure for presenting and appealing grievances; and it 
provided means of access to certain personnel information. 41 

Training Programs 

The development of training programs in the Department reflected 
special characteristics of the Department. 42 Since most of the scientific 
personnel were recruited from the land-grant colleges, the outlook of 
many in the Department was directed toward a specialized field or 
subject matter. Consequently, the individual scientist was frequently 
concerned only with working conditions that guaranteed continuity 
within his field; he was, on the whole, impatient with broader con- 
siderations. There was, nevertheless, the need for developing recruits 
for higher directive positions, the incumbents of which must have 
a broader outlook and be able to see particular researches in the light 
of larger programs. How research instituted to attack a certain problem 
should be appraised; when activities should be ended; when personnel 
should be shifted to other problems — these were additional questions. 

Recruits for directive positions were difficult to find; they must com- 
prehend research problems and command respect of the research staff 
and yet be capable of evaluating the research and of preventing work 
from continuing under its own momentum. The Department was 
experimenting with various types of training procedures whereby it 
might be provided in the future with personnel able to direct line activi- 
ties in the light of general departmental programs and needs. Such 
efforts were important also because the Department's homogeneity, 

40 The Office issued in December, 1938, a factual summary of efficiency ratings for 
1938, and in March, 1939, an "Efficiency Rating Manual" for assisting the bureaus in the 
rating work, outlining procedure, and bringing about greater uniformity in results. 

41 The memorandum is reproduced in Appendix C below, at page 497. 

42 Among the surveys and reports on personnel issued by the Office of Personnel are 
"Employment Training Policy" (a report of the Committee on In-Service Training, April, 
1939) and "How to Start a Training Program," July, 1939. 

342 Department of Agriculture 

which was almost automatically supplied by. the common educational 
background of the land-grant colleges and by the natural sciences, 
was increasingly qualified by personnel recruitment from other sources. 43 
The Department was perhaps the outstanding institution in the United 
States in which integration of the work of the natural and the social 
scientist was increasingly required. Here again the Department's train- 
ing program was of major importance. 

Other special training problems arose because a large portion of the 
personnel was in the field and was engaged in work peculiar to the 
Department. There were, for example, many types of inspectors ad- 
ministering marketing and other regulatory and service-providing 
activities. There were the widely scattered units of the Forest and Soil 
Conservation Services and the F.S.A. Great were the physical difficulties 
attending a training program that would fit the new recruit to his job 
(for which no educational institution could possibly provide adequate 
training) and that would contribute to his general as well as his pro- 
fessional development. Even in the Washington offices it was not easy 
to supplement a legitimate and desirable corporate bureau feeling by 
adequate consideration of general departmental problems and policies. 
Nevertheless, this task was attempted. The Graduate School was brought 
into closer relationship to the Department's general personnel program. 
In a memorandum of June 24, 1938, the Secretary designated the Director 
of Personnel as the Secretary's "representative in all matters relating to 
the Department Graduate School." 

For some years the School's lecture courses were used to stimulate 
interest in the Department's history and problems, in questions of 
administration and management, and in important trends in the 
natural and social sciences. These lectures of a more popular and 
general type supplemented the more specialized and technical courses 
offered in the School. At the request of the Director of Personnel, 
educational counselors were appointed in all the bureaus to advise 
employees interested in continuing their educational work. The Office 
also initiated luncheon meetings for the chiefs and ranking officials 
of the bureaus, for division heads, and for junior officials, at which 

48 See "Report on Career Training for Agriculture" (mimeo., no date), prepared by the 
Committee on Career Training for Agriculture of the Department, of which Mr. Stock- 
berger was chairman and Carl F. Taeusch the executive secretary. The Committee's 
findings were summarized in an address on "Training for Professional Service in the 
Field of Agriculture," given by Mr. Taeusch before the Resident Teaching Subsection of 
the Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities at Chicago on November 14, 
1938. See also the Report of the Joint Committee on Training for Government Service of 
the Department and the Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities on Prepara- 
tion and Training of Extension Workers, November, 1938 (Extension Service Circ. 295). 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 343 

speakers presented administrative problems common throughout the 
Department. A mimeographed "Bulletin of Personnel Administration" 
was circulated, in which personnel problems were discussed; news 
items and observations about them, drawn from the experience of 
agencies of the Department, were presented. 

Employee training was highly decentralized to carry out the De- 
partment's policy that training should be given so far as possible by 
each executive and supervisor to his subordinates. The Office of Per- 
sonnel provided leadership by advising and stimulating training and 
serving as a source of information on technique and planning; it under- 
took a few training projects where it had operational responsibilities. 
Those undertaken were usually to train personnel who would have 
training duties. Bureaus were encouraged to provide training leader- 
ship by employment of training specialists. In 1939 several bureaus had 
one or more training specialists, and some had regional training officers. 
These officers in turn were encouraged to avoid operational responsi- 
bilities for training and to concentrate on planning and advising. Co- 
operation in in-service training was initiated with educational institu- 
tions in the region by some bureau regional training officers. 

Integration with the Activities of Agencies 

The accumulation of information and the recording of experience 
about personnel and related organizational problems throughout the 
Department enabled the Office to join with the Office of Budget and 
Finance in advising the Secretary on departmental programs and the 
development of new policies and activities. The Director was, there- 
fore, by virtue of his position, an important member of the general 
staff. No agricultural policy could successfully be launched and main- 
tained unless its application in terms of men, money, and materials had 
been carefully planned. Too often this point was overlooked. The need 
for haste and the need for careful planning create a tragic dilemma of 
government in a period of rapid change and of apparent crisis. The 
demand for action leads to a decision to proceed at once with a policy 
that seems to offer a solution to the problem producing the crisis. 
It would be wiser in the long run to resist the tremendous pressure 
for quick action long enough to enable the legitimate and necessary 
zeal of its proponents to be mingled with the experience and insight 
of the Offices of Budget and Finance and of Personnel. 

Two general developments in personnel administration in the na- 
tional government were calculated to increase the importance of de : 

344 Department of Agriculture 

partmental personnel offices. The Executive Order (No. 7916) of 
President Roosevelt of June 24, 1938, laid the legal basis for positive 
advance in personnel administration that would undoubtedly be made 
in the following decade. Under it and related orders issued during 1938 
personnel officers were appointed in the major executive departments, 
charged with formulating career service programs, including training 
policies. A Council of Personnel Administration composed of these 
officers, representatives of the Civil Service Commission, and a chair- 
man appointed by the President 44 was established to supplement the 
Commission's work by emphasis upon training and career programs. 
The Department had anticipated these developments by creating the 
first departmental personnel office in 1923, when Mr. Stockberger be- 
came adviser on classification to the Secretary, and in 1925, when the 
Office of Personnel and Business Administration was established. 

Bureaucracy vs. Politics in Selecting the "Right" Person 

Two major criticisms are generally made of the government service — 
criticisms that are in part contradictory. It is held, on the one hand, 
that government employment is characterized by routine; that it is 
destructive of ambition and drive; that civil servants grow out of touch 
with the attitudes and needs of the public that they are employed to 
serve; that the service contains an excessive amount of "dead wood"; 
that it is "bureaucratic." On the other hand, government jobs are al- 
leged to be the spoils of dominant groups — of party machines, of indi- 
viduals of influence, of legislators, and also of pressure groups, such 
as producers or processors or others, whose interests will be served by 
having friends at court. What bearing did the Department's personnel 
policies and practices have on these criticisms ? Let it be stated at once 
that these criticisms, however distorted on occasion, reflect real problems 
— problems that are perhaps more widespread than the critics usually 
admit. The two criticisms reflect, in fact, the problem of balancing 
stability and change — the problem of harnessing together for construc- 
tive progress the vitality of social and political movements and outlook 
with the moderating influences of experience and expert knowledge. 
Inevitably we are brought back to the basic tasks of an auxiliary service : 

44 The first chairman was Frederick L. Davenport, formerly Professor of Law and Politics 
at Hamilton College, former member of the U. S. House of Representatives, and Director 
of the National Institute of Public Affairs. 

On January 31, 1939, the President issued an executive order (No. 8044) suspending 
for certain positions his earlier order of June 24 (No. 7916) extending the competitive 
civil service, pending the report of a special committee under the chairmanship of Mr. 
Justice Stanley Reed. 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 345 

control and facilitation; control to establish standards and prevent abuse; 
facilitation to the responsible operating officials in assisting them to 
obtain properly trained recruits and in stimulating them to their best 
endeavor. We are brought back, also, to the fundamental matter of 
organization. Where should political outlook be brought to bear? 
Where should it mingle with departmental experience and continuity ? 
We have sought to answer this latter question in our discussion of 
the role of the Office of the Secretary, of the political chiefs, and of 
the general staff. It is here, and of course in the Congress, that a fresh 
outlook reflective of changing social forces and objectives should be 
present. Seldom will the changes be abrupt. The political chiefs will 
have immediately available their own selections of general-staff mem- 
bers, who mingle, in their daily work, with experienced career officials 
in the auxiliary services and in the line bureaus. Where new activities 
are being undertaken, it may be important to bring in personnel from 
without the Department, or from without the government service. 
Although experienced career officials will be needed to enable the new 
unit to operate with least friction and waste, appointments from out- 
side should be the exception if the benefits of a career service are to be 

Outside Appointments Reduced by Training and Promotion 

A good training and promotion system, operating throughout the 
civil services of all levels of government, should reduce the extent to 
which appointments from outside the civil service system may be re- 
quired. The essential personal element here is less expertness in subject 
matter — important as that may be in a line of promotion — than wisdom 
and imagination and social attitude. These qualities enable their pos- 
sessor to look ahead and abroad; to see around his subject; to note 
tendencies and trends and to appraise their relative importance; to 
observe persons of promise who could be put to best use on some future 
occasion; and to formulate clearly and persuasively new lines of policy 
or research to be explored. Government service, like every other cur- 
rent employment, does not produce enough personnel of this sort; 
on occasion the ordinary requirements of a guild type must be violated 
to find just the right man or woman. Too often "just the right person" 
turns out to have been selected on subjective grounds, and the "right- 
ness" is visible only to the person making the appointment. Selections 
from outside, therefore, need to be scrutinized most carefully by a 
personnel office to avoid disturbance of morale generally and possible 

346 Department of Agriculture 

misguidance of higher officials. It is important, too, that the personnel 
office constantly comb the Department for persons who should be de- 
veloped for higher posts. 

Influence of Professional and Lay Contacts 

The Department had certain especially favorable circumstances 
mitigating the natural tendency of employments to become routine. 
Much of its work was done in conjunction with, and under the scrutiny 
of, fellow scientists and administrators in state colleges, agricultural 
experiment stations, and departments of forestry, agriculture, and mar- 
kets. Its thousands of scientists and professional workers were mem- 
bers of the learned societies in their fields and had a natural desire 
to maintain standards that would bring prestige to the Department. 
We would emphasize, too, the importance of the close association in 
the Department's work of the civil servants with great numbers of 
citizens both through the Extension Service and through the network 
of committees of farmers and other citizens. The members of these 
committees might in fact be considered a kind of supplementary arm 
of the Department, but an arm that brought the layman's interests and 
attitudes to the attention of the professional. Carleton R. Ball estimates 45 
that there were 892,855 "assisting citizens" on lay committees and in 
test-demonstration work in 1939. Some officials in the Department had 
already been recruited from service on these lay committees. For ex- 
ample, R. M. Evans, the Administrator of the A.A.A., served initially 
on his county A.A.A. committee in its early years. 

These committees might partly meet the difficulties caused by failure 

^"Citizens Help Plan and Operate Programs," Land Policy Review, March-April, 1940, 
pp. 19-27. His figures in detail are as follows: 

Name of Citizen Group Members 

A.A.A. Local committees 135,591 

County land-use committees 72,000 

Extension Service volunteer program leaders 586,600 

F.C.A. Association directors and committees 36,574 

F.S.A. Local committees 26,753 

Grazing Service District Advisory Boards (Department of the Interior) 547 

R.E.A. Association directors 4,900 

Soil Conservation district supervisors 855 

Tennessee Valley committees and test-demonstrators 

(in cooperation with the T.V.A.) 29,035 

Mr. Ball notes also the unpaid volunteer observers and reporters of basic data, such as 
the livestock and crop reporters (of whom there were over 500,000). See also D. A. Fitz- 
gerald, "County Planning Summary," Soil Conservation, May, 1940, pp. 278-79, for 
details on the participation by farmers with technicians in the land-use planning program. 
Some studies of these developments by graduate students in political science were being 
initiated in 1940. 

Auxiliary Services of the Department 347 

generally to solve the problem of relating the political interests reflected 
in elective officials to the experience of a career civil service. We have 
previously dwelt upon the gap that existed between the departments 
and "The Hill" and the attitude frequently held by members of Con- 
gress that the departments were not "their" agencies but the President's. 
Collaboration of technicians and administrative officers with lay com- 
mittees might encourage further a two-way movement of experience 
and ideas and thus bring to a focus the importance of scientific and 
administrative services requiring experienced personnel and of the 
needs and outlook of the producer and consumer. 

Effects of Political Transition 

Nevertheless, the transfer of political power from a party long in 
power to one long out of power was inevitably accompanied by diffi- 
culties, particularly in our continental political system in which party 
leaders serve at the Capital as ambassadors of great regions. There was 
pressure not merely on behalf of party workers but also from growers, 
processors, or distributors of commodities for representation in ad- 
ministrative offices — where discretionary powers were refined to specific 
rules and applications — of personnel deemed of "practical experience." 46 
Thus, the Department was frequently accused of lowering personnel 
standards not only by party opponents but also by those who had been 
adversely affected by subject-matter policies and who felt that these 
policies were caused by officials too favorable to an interested group. 
The criticism had long been urged that the Department was too 
"farmer-minded," for example. It was argued in reply that the new 
agencies excepted from the application of the merit system regulations 
developed personnel standards and practices that were equivalent to 
the usual civil service recruitment measures and that they were able 
to act more promptly and with a more intimate knowledge of personnel 
requirements and new techniques. 47 

46 Since commodity interests were generally rooted in a geographic region, they 
would seek representation through the elected and party officials of the region. John C. 
Calhoun's theories of constitutional government included a frank recognition of this 
factor and of the idea that the policies of the "numerical majority" should be checked 
and balanced by those of the "concurrent majority" of the major interests, which he 
noted as essentially regional. 

47 This argument often carried weight because of the failure to supply civil service 
commissions with sufficient funds to handle the business for which they were responsible. 
If the U. S. Civil Service Commission were given increased funds to (enlarge its staff 
of examiners so as to permit a more detailed knowledge of department personnel needs 
and a more positive program of recruitment of candidates for examinations, the criticisms 
noted above could in large part be met. It was too frequently assumed that when a 

348 Department of Agriculture 

It was also pointed out that career men continued to be moved to 
higher posts regardless of party changes at the top and that some of 
those in most responsible posts in 1939 had entered the Department in 
earlier administrations and were promoted after 1933. Some of the 
new agencies were as large as departments used to be and represented 
the entrance of government into relatively new fields of positive gov- 
ernmental policy; the appointment of higher officials from outside the 
ordinary lines of career was defended for these services on the ground 
that persons sympathetic to the objectives of the newer emphasis were 
needed in the period of pioneering. Such an argument certainly had 
less weight in positions down the line and in the field, where appoint- 
ments reflecting party, factional, or interest-group pressure aroused 
distrust and loss of confidence as much as they might win support. 
Even the establishment of standards of selection for those named through 
patronage did not prevent, however much it might narrow or soften, 
the resentment of individuals or factions whose nominees were not 
selected; they were chiefly aware of the central fact that patronage was 
dispensed, even after qualifying examinations had been required. 

We come back inevitably to the point that we have urged through- 
out this study. The stresses and strains of political transition are real; 
the problem of finding the highest quality of personnel for higher posts 
within any career grouping is difficult; and the need for positive ef- 
forts to build morale, to open up opportunity, and to develop new 
leadership is great. Herein lay the great challenge to the Office of 
Personnel. The recruitment of personnel — and their training — for posi- 
tions of greatest importance was a joint responsibility of operating 
officials and of auxiliary services. They had an instrument of unique 
type and value in the well-established and greatly enlarged association 
of civil servant and lay citizen, of special importance out in the field, 
where most citizens held a view of their national government that was 
largely the product of their contact in practical affairs with the field offi- 
cial. The development of field trips of Washington officials in company 
with field and state officials for joint stu